Warren Gatland announces Wales squad to face Australia – Owen Williams gets the nod at 12

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Warren Gatland has answered the question over the inside-centre position by selecting Owen Williams in the Wales side to face Australia on Saturday.

With four fly-halves named in the wider Autumn Internationals squad, there were strong rumours Gatland would replicate his British and Irish Lions team selection by opting for a footballer at 12, especially after leaving out Jamie Roberts and, initially, Scott Williams.

Gloucester’s Owen Williams will join Dan Biggar in midfield, with Gareth Davies inside them after Rhys Webb was not deemed fit enough for selection.

Justin Tipuric is also an injury blow for Gatland, with the Ospreys flanker joining Sam Warburton, Ellis Jenkins, James Davies and Ollie Griffiths in a long list of injured opensides, leaving Josh Navidi to claim the number seven jersey.

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Up front Tomas Francis starts, as Samson Lee struggles with an achilles problem, but there is one positive piece of injury news as Rob Evans recovers from concussion to pack down at loosehead alongside Scarlets teammate Ken Owens.

Alun Wyn Jones captains the side from lock, alongside Jake Ball, Taulupe Faletau and Jonathan Davies also providing experience through the spine of the team.

In the back three there is a first home start for in-form Steff Evans, while Liam Williams is selected on the other wing with Leigh Halfpenny at full-back.

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On the bench there are nods for uncapped trio Leon Brown, Sam Cross and Owen Watkin, while between Kris Dacey, Nicky Smith, Cory Hill, Aled Davies and Hallam Amos there are only 36 caps as Warren Gatland affords some younger players the chance of adding to their appearance tally.

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets), Liam Williams (Saracens), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Owen Williams (Gloucester), Steff Evans (Scarlets), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Gareth Davies (Scarlets); Rob Evans (Scarlets), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, capt), Aaron Shingler (Scarlets), Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues), Taulupe Faletau (Bath)

Replacements: Smith (Ospreys), Dacey (Cardiff Blues), Brown (Dragons), Cross (Ospreys), Hill (Dragons), A Davies (Scarlets), Watkin (Ospreys), Amos (Dragons).

Speaking to the Welsh Rugby Union website, Gatland said “We are really looking forward to Saturday and getting the Under Armour Series underway.

“I’m delighted for Steff Evans, Owen Williams and Josh Navidi that they get their first start at home, the atmosphere will be fantastic and it’s a great opportunity for them.

“It’s going to be a tough first up game, we know that and we need to be up and running. We have a squad that’s packed with talent and is on form and we are excited to see what they can do.”

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