Wales v New Zealand: Halfpenny back and Liam Williams on bench

Leigh Halfpenny and Liam Williams
Liam Williams (R) made his debut for Wales at full-back against the Barbarians in June 2012
Autumn internationals: Wales v New Zealand
Venue: Millennium Stadium Date: Sat 22 November Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC Two, BBC Two HD, online, mobiles and BBC Sport app from 16:55 GMT; commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Wales & Radio Cymru; text commentary on BBC Sport website & mobiles

Leigh Halfpenny has returned from concussion to take over from Liam Williams at full-back for Wales against New Zealand on Saturday.

Jonathan Davies, Dan Biggar and Rhys Webb also return from injuries with the latter taking over at scrum-half from Mike Phillips.

Up front Jake Ball and Alun Wyn Jones return at lock and Paul James at prop.

After his controversial appearance for Gloucester on Friday, Richard Hibbard is restored to the Wales hooking berth.

Gethin Jenkins was ruled out of contention by a hamstring strain so Bath's James returns at loose-head prop while 20-year-old Osprey Nicky Smith is on the bench.

Wales' autumn Tests
Saturday, 8 November: Wales 28-33 Australia - report
Saturday, 15 November: Wales 17-13 Fiji -report
Saturday, 22 November: v New Zealand (17:30 GMT)
Saturday, 29 November: v South Africa (14:30 GMT)
All games to be played at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

Smith made his debut off the bench as Wales beat Fiji last weekend.

Wasps lock Bradley Davies also missed out because he has not been able to train this week.

Wales coach Warren Gatland said an "ankle knock" contributed to the decision to put Scarlets full-back Williams on the bench and bring Halfpenny back following his recovery from concussion.

Clermont Auvergne centre Davies is the only change to the starting XV that lost 33-28 to Australia in Wales' opening November Test.

Scott Williams, of Scarlets, deputised against the Wallabies and also played in Wales' unconvincing win over Fiji, but is not in the match-day squad.

There is also no place for Scarlets fly-half Rhys Priestland, with Wales coach Warren Gatland opting for versatile Gloucester player James Hook.

Sam Warburton and Warren Gatland
Warren Gatland (right) became Wales coach in 2007

Scott Williams, Priestland and scrum-half Rhodri Williams have been released to Scarlets for Friday night's Pro12 game against Glasgow at Parc y Scarlets.

At the press conference that followed the team announcement, Gatland said dropping Liam Williams was "a tough call".

New Zealander Gatland added: "Liam's taken a bit of a knock on the weekend and didn't take part in training yesterday and is sore today.

"It's tough, but we've probably gone with the experience of Leigh.

"And even though we've got someone like Dan Biggar we felt goal-kicking was an important factor and played into that decision as well."

Earlier, in a Wales press release, Gatland said: "It's a boost to have a few players back from injury. It's one of the most experienced teams we have put out.

Wales captain Sam Warburton
"Mentally everyone will be a bit more switched on [against New Zealand]. If anything the pressures going to be off us.."

"A couple of decisions have been forced upon us [by injury].

"Gethin Jenkins has a hamstring strain, Bradley Davies hasn't trained for the first couple of days and Liam Williams had a bit of ankle knock at the weekend and it was a big call on him but he will start on the bench.

"We are expecting another clinical performance from the All Blacks. We need to match their intensity and aggression."

New Zealand are scheduled to name their team on Thursday, 20 November.

Wales captain Sam Warburton says the disappointing display against Fiji will have "no bearing" against the All Blacks.

"Mentally everyone will be a bit more switched on," he said.

"If anything the pressure's going to be off us.

"Underdogs have always got a chance of winning that's why sport's so great."


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

Replacements: Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Luke Charteris (Racing Metro), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Mike Phillips (Racing Metro), James Hook (Gloucester), Liam Williams (Scarlets).

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