Six Nations 2015: Wales wing George North back to face England

Northampton wing George North has won 45 Wales caps and three for the Lions
Northampton wing George North has won 45 Wales caps and three for the Lions
RBS Six Nations: Wales v England
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff Date: Friday, 6 February Kick-off: 20:05 GMT Coverage: Live on BBC TV, HD, Red Button, Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru, the BBC Sport website, S4C online, mobile, the BBC Sport app and Connected TV.

George North returns at wing for Wales in Friday's 2015 Six Nations opener against England in Cardiff.

The return of fellow British and Irish Lion Richard Hibbard at hooker is the other change from the side that beat South Africa 12-6 in November.

Captain Sam Warburton will win his 50th cap as part of a settled back-row with Dan Lydiate and Taulupe Faletau.

Leigh Halfpenny starts at full-back, with Liam Williams having to make do with a spot on the bench.

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Scarlets full-back Williams played on the wing against the Springboks but had been tipped in some quarters to challenge Halfpenny for the Wales 15 shirt this campaign.

Scott Baldwin makes way for Hibbard at hooker and must also be content with a place among the replacements.

Ospreys duo Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar continue at half-back, with Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies renewing their partnership in midfield.

Last week, Wales coach Warren Gatland had signalled North and Hibbard might not start against England and that training sessions could be crucial in deciding who lined up in the Six Nations opener.

Gatland said Wales were hoping for a big performance from Northampton Saints wing North, who has scored 19 tries for his country.

"We don't think he's played that well in the Welsh jersey in the last few games," Gatland said.

"He's had a lot of pressure and expectation on him to perform but one of the things he has done for Wales is that he's scored tries and he continues to do that for his club as well.

"He does have that X Factor and we're looking for a big performance from him on Friday night.

"If he gets lots of touches and his work-rate's high he will create something and it's what we're looking for from him."

Wales brought forward their team announcement from Wednesday to Monday.

"We decided to name the team early to give the players the best possible chance of preparation," said Gatland.

"We told the players this morning and what normally happens in Wales is that it doesn't take long before reporters start to ring around."

Gatland said the two changes he had made were "tough calls", adding it underlined the strength of his squad.

Wales' Six Nations fixtures:
Friday, 6 February: England (Cardiff)
Sunday, 15 February: Scotland (Murrayfield)
Saturday, 28 February: France (Paris)
Saturday, 14 March: Ireland (Cardiff)
Saturday, 21 March: Italy (Rome)

He added: "We are excited about kicking the tournament off on Friday against a strong England side in front of a packed Millennium Stadium."

Baldwin, Paul James and Aaron Jarvis form the front-row cover on the bench, with Luke Charteris and Justin Tipuric completing the forward contingent.

Mike Phillips, Rhys Priestland and Williams provide the backline cover.

WALES TEAM TO PLAY ENGLAND:

Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon); Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Jonathan Davies (ASM Clermont Auvergne), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro), George North (Northampton Saints); Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Rhys Webb (Ospreys); Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Richard Hibbard (Gloucester), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues, Capt), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements: Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Paul James (Bath Rugby), Aaron Jarvis (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Racing Metro), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Mike Phillips (Racing Metro), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Liam Williams (Scarlets).

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