George North left out of Wales squad for Six Nations opener

Rhys Patchell will take up outhalf role in place of injured Dan Biggar for Scotland clash

Josh Adams of Worcester Warriors will make his Wales debut in their Six Nations meeting with Scotland on Saturday. Photo: Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Josh Adams of Worcester Warriors will make his Wales debut in their Six Nations meeting with Scotland on Saturday. Photo: Tony Marshall/Getty Images

 

Worcester wing Josh Adams has been rewarded for his blistering Aviva Premiership form with a Wales Test match debut.

Swansea-born Adams, the Premiership’s top try-scorer this season, will start in Saturday’s Six Nations opener against Scotland at the Principality Stadium.

Wales coach Warren Gatland has been impressed by Josh Adams’ performances with Worcester this season. The 22-year-old has starred for the Warriors this term despite their lowly league position, and he now goes straight into the Wales starting line-up.

“We have been watching Josh closely,” Wales head coach Warren Gatland said.

“He is top try-scorer in the English Premiership and has been going well, and we are excited for him.”

Gatland’s starting XV includes 10 Scarlets players — a record for the in-form Welsh region — with Rhys Patchell handed the fly-half role instead of an injured Dan Biggar.

It will be Patchell’s sixth cap, but his first start in the Wales number 10 shirt, while other Scarlets players selected include centre Hadleigh Parkes, wing Steff Evans, who is available again after suspension, scrum-half Gareth Davies

and prop Samson Lee.

Biggar is among several senior players sidelined through injury — the list also includes Sam Warburton, Jonathan Davies, Rhys Webb and Taulupe Faletau — as Wales protect a 16-year unbeaten home record against Scotland.

There is no place in the match-day 23 for Northampton wing George North, whose season has been blighted by knee trouble, but Gloucester back-row forward Ross Moriarty is recalled.

Moriarty packs down at number eight alongside Aaron Shingler and Josh Navidi in the back-row after impressing in recent Gloucester outings following his recovery from a back problem.

Gatland added: “The first-up game against Scotland this weekend is really important for us, and this is a great chance for this group of players to get us off to a good start.

“Both Rhys (Patchell) and Gareth (Anscombe) have been training really well over the last couple of weeks.

“It was a tough call between them. Rhys has started most of his games for the Scarlets at 10, we are really happy with his form and the combination with Gareth (Davies) at nine.

“We know what a quality player Ross (Moriarty) is. It’s great he is back and available, and we are looking forward to seeing his explosive ball-carrying on Saturday.

“For this opening game, we looked at a lot of combinations, especially the front-row. It is exciting to see Samson (Lee) back playing well, and the familiarity of the Scarlets front-row will be important.”

Wales have not won the Six Nations title since 2013, and they need to make a winning start, especially as they then face successive away games against England and Ireland.

WALES: Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets); Josh Adams (Worcester), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets), Steff Evans (Scarlets); Rhys Patchell (Scarlets), Gareth Davies (Scarlets); Rob Evans (Scarlets), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Cory Hill (Dragons), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys),Aaron Shingler (Scarlets), Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues), Ross Moriarty (Gloucester).

Replacements: Elliot Dee (Dragons), Wyn Jones (Scarlets), Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs), Bradley Davies (Ospreys), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Aled Davies (Scarlets), Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues) Owen Watkin (Ospreys).

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