Depleted Wales forced into three changes for Fiji clash
Warren Gatland brings in Matthew and Tyler Morgan for first World Cup starts
Bristol fullback Matthew Morgan will make his first World Cup start for Wales against Fiji on Thursday. Photograph: Afp
Bristol full-back Matthew Morgan replaces Liam Williams, who is recovering from concussion, while centre Tyler Morgan replaces knee injury victim Scott Williams and wing Alex Cuthbert takes over from Hallam Amos, who is sidelined from the rest of the tournament with a shoulder problem.
It is otherwise the same team that beat England at Twickenham three days ago, with James Hook, who was called into the squad as a replacement on Monday, named among the replacements.
Gatland retains the pack on duty against England, with flanker Dan Lydiate and number eight Taulupe Faletau both winning their 50th caps.
Matthew Morgan, 23, and 20-year-old Tyler Morgan make their first World Cup starts as Wales look to take another major step towards the quarter-finals, with Gatland’s selection reflecting the huge importance of Thursday’s game.
Tyler Morgan missed out on original World Cup selection, but was then drafted in as replacement for Cory Allen, who suffered a tournament-ending hamstring injury after scoring three tries against opening opponents Uruguay.
Victory for Wales would put them within touching distance of the last-eight, and also leave England having to beat Australia at Twickenham on Saturday or the host nation will suffer an embarrassing pool stage exit.
“It is important we build on the success and momentum from last weekend and take that into Thursday,” Gatland said.
“Fiji have performed very well in their opening two games, and they will be coming to Cardiff looking to build on that themselves.
“We have made three changes through injury, but go into this game with a strong side.
“We are looking forward to being back at the Millennium Stadium on Thursday and having the crowd right behind us in an important World Cup fixture.”
Apart from beating Fiji, Wales will also hope they can emerge unscathed in terms of injuries, with Australia looming at Twickenham nine days later.
Gatland has so far lost almost a sixth of his original 31-man World Cup squad through injury — a casualty count comfortably higher than any other team — with Amos and Scott Williams following Allen, full-back Leigh Halfpenny and scrum-half Rhys Webb in being sidelined from the tournament.
Hook apart, the bench is unchanged from that on duty at Twickenham last Saturday, with again no place in the match-day 23 for Ospreys prop Paul James, who went off with calf muscle trouble during the Uruguay game.
Wales: M Morgan (Bristol); A Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), T Morgan (Newport Gwent Dragons), J Roberts (Harlequins), G North (Northampton); D Biggar (Ospreys), G Davies (Scarlets); G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), S Baldwin (Ospreys), T Francis (Exeter), B Davies (Wasps), A-W Jones (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Ospreys), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons)
Replacements: K Owens (Scarlets), A Jarvis (Ospreys), S Lee (Scarlets), L Charteris (Racing 92), J Tipuric (Ospreys), L Williams (Cardiff Blues), R Priestland (Bath), J Hook (Gloucester)
Fiji: Metuisela Talebula, Timoci Nagusa, Vereniki Goneva, Lepani Botia, Aseli Tikoirotuma, Ben Volavola, Nemia Kenatale, Campese Maafu, Sunia Koto, Manasa Saulo, Tevita Cavubati, Leone Nakarawa, Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Akapusi Qera (captain), Netani Talei.
Replacements: Viliame Veikoso, Peni Ravia, Leeroy Atalifo, Nemia Soqeta, Malakai Ravulo, Henry Seniloli, Joshua Matavesi, Kini Murimurivalu.