Wales v Australia: Leigh Halfpenny returns as Liam Williams loses fitness race

Leigh Halfpenny
Leigh Halfpenny has not played for Wales since September 2015
Wales Under Armour Test series - Wales v Australia
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Saturday, 5 November Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Coverage: Live BBC Wales television and radio commentary; also on the BBC Sport website and app, plus live text commentaries

Liam Williams has lost his fitness fight and will miss Wales' game against Australia on Saturday.

Leigh Halfpenny plays at full back in Williams' absence for his first Test appearance in 14 months.

Prop Gethin Jenkins will mark his 127th appearance by captaining the team.

Alex Cuthbert returns on the wing with Luke Charteris and Bradley Davies packing down in the second row and uncapped Ospreys fly-half Sam Davies named on the bench.

Uncapped Newport Gwent Dragons second row Cory Hill is also among the replacements.

Full-back Williams misses out after failing to recover from an ankle injury suffered against Saracens in the European Champions Cup on 22 October.

Halfpenny has not played for Wales since damaging knee ligaments against Italy on 5 September, 2015.

Williams' Scarlets team-mate, second-row Jake Ball, is also ruled out by a rib injury suffered in the same game.

Centre Scott Williams, who had been struggling with an ankle injury, also misses out.

Experienced flanker Sam Warburton and number eight Taulupe Faletau are ruled out by injuries, while lock Alun Wyn Jones misses the game following the death of his father.

Wales have lost 11 consecutive matches against the Wallabies since the 21-18 win in Cardiff in 2008.

The starting XV shows eight changes from the side beaten 46-6 by New Zealand in June.

"It's great to welcome back Leigh Halfpenny, Dan Lydiate, and Alex Cuthbert who missed the New Zealand tour plus George North and Gethin Jenkins who left the tour early with injury," said coach Rob Howley.

Robert Howley
Wales won the 2013 Six Nations during Robert Howley's first stint as their caretaker coach

"With losing Sam Warburton, Taulupe Faletau and Alun Wyn Jones, we have spoken a lot about the leadership group this week and their importance on the field.

"From the Welsh squad's perspective, our thoughts go out to Alun Wyn and his family at this difficult time.

"With the two uncapped players, Sam Davies has played particularly well, he deserves his chance and hopefully will have an influence on the game.

"Cory comes onto the bench, with Rory (Thornton) having picked up a back spasm, and we are delighted with him and how he has stepped up to this level in training."

Wales v Australia

Backs: Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon); Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Harlequins), George North (Northampton); Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Rhys Webb (Ospreys). Forwards: Gethin Jenkins (Blues, capt), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Luke Charteris (Bath), Bradley Davies (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Ospreys), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Ross Moriarty (Gloucester).

Replacements: Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Tomas Francis (Exeter), Cory Hill (Newport Gwent Dragons), James King (Ospreys), Gareth Davies, Sam Davies (Ospreys), Hallam Amos (Dragons).

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