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Centre Hawkins to make debut for Wales against Australia

Wales centre Joe Hawkins will earn his first cap in their final autumn international against Australia at the Principality Stadium on Saturday, while Leigh Halfpenny gets a first start since July 2021 as he takes over at fullback.

Hawkins comes into the side for Owen Watkin, who has a knee injury, and will partner George North in the midfield. Rio Dyer and Alex Cuthbert make up the back three with Halfpenny, who has been struck down by injuries over the last 12 months.

"There’s been an injury to Owen Watkin which gives an opportunity to young Joe Hawkins," coach Wayne Pivac said in a media release from Welsh Rugby.

"He’s obviously very excited. He’s been in camp training for the last month and learning a lot and he’s looked good in training, so he gets an opportunity."

Gareth Anscombe starts at flyhalf and Tomos Williams will wear the number nine jersey.

Taulupe Faletau will earn his 100th cap as he comes in at number eight, while Jac Morgan and captain Justin Tipuric join him at the back of the scrum.

"Toby (Faletau) is a world-class player and it’s testament to his hard work and commitment that he’s making his 100th Test appearance this weekend. I know it will be a proud day for him and his family," said Pivac.

Experienced lock Alun Wyn Jones will start alongside Adam Beard in the second row, while props Gareth Thomas and Dillon Lewis are either side of hooker Ken Owens.

Pivac said the team were looking to finish their season on a high after a shock 13-12 loss to Georgia last weekend.

"The whole squad is extremely disappointed with last week’s performance. It’s not the result that anybody wanted. It’s not the result that anyone expected," he added.

"We’ve gone through a review process. We know what went wrong and what is required to get the result this weekend.

"Some players have come back that were not involved last week. Certainly, it’s a side we’ve selected to get a result which we’re desperately seeking. They’ve gelled well at the start of the week, and we look forward to seeing how we go."

Team: 15. Leigh Halfpenny, 14. Alex Cuthbert, 13. George North, 12. Joe Hawkins, 11. Rio Dyer, 10. Gareth Anscombe , 9. Tomos Williams, 8. Taulupe Faletau, 7. Justin Tipuric, 6. Jac Morgan, 5. Alun Wyn Jones, 4. Adam Beard, 3. Dillon Lewis, 2. Ken Owens, 1. Gareth Thomas

Replacements: 16. Ryan Elias, 17. Rhodri Jones, 18. Tomas Francis, 19. Ben Carter, 20. Josh Macleod, 21. Kieran Hardy, 22. Rhys Priestland, 23. Josh Adams

Source: Reuters
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