Six Nations 2019: Tomos Williams at scrum-half for Wales against France
|Six Nations: France v Wales|
|Venue: Stade de France, Paris Date: Friday, 1 February Kick-off: 20:00 GMT|
|Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC One Wales & S4C, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.|
Scrum-half Tomos Williams will make his Six Nations debut for Wales against France in Paris on Friday night.
Despite injury concerns there are only three changes from the team that defeated South Africa in November 2018.
Head coach Warren Gatland has opted for Cardiff Blues' Williams in the starting XV ahead of Scarlets rival Gareth Davies, who is on the bench.
Scarlets prop Rob Evans and Cardiff Blues flanker Josh Navidi replace the injured Nicky Smith and Ellis Jenkins.
Ken Owens becomes Wales' most capped hooker on his 61st appearance.
Smith has been struggling with an ankle problem, while Jenkins suffered a serious knee injury against South Africa which ruled the Cardiff Blues skipper out for at least the rest of the season.
Selecting Dragons number eight Ross Moriarty may be a fitness gamble. The British and Irish Lions back-rower has not played since 15 December because of concussion issues.
But Wales are confident in Moriarty's ability to play Test rugby despite no competitive action for seven weeks.
A back-row with Moriarty, the returning Navidi and Justin Tipuric is the most experienced trio available with Aaron Wainwright among the replacements.
Gatland said Williams had earned his chance, but admitted doubts over Gareth Davies' fitness also influenced his selection.
"He's fit for a start, that's probably the biggest thing about him," said the New Zealander.
"Gareth didn't train all week so the call was made on fitness as much as anything.
"It's a great opportunity for him (Williams) for his first Six Nations game. He's not the biggest man in the world but he's competitive.
"We feel he's a player with a future, he has things to work on - he knows that, from a defensive point of view - but he's got some lovely little touches and a bit of x-factor about him as well."
Williams makes his tournament debut alongside regional half-back partner Gareth Anscombe, with fly-half Dan Biggar again being reduced to a replacements role.
Saracens full-back Liam Williams (broken finger), Worcester wing Josh Adams (hamstring) and lock Adam Beard (concussion) have shrugged off fitness concerns to take their spots in the starting side.
After the game in Paris, Wales move on to Nice where 31 players will gather as they prepare to face Italy in Rome on Saturday, 9 February.
France have named 19-year-old centre Romain Ntamack ahead of experienced Mathieu Bastareaud at centre.
Wales: Liam Williams (Saracens); George North (Ospreys), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets), Josh Adams (Worcester); Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), Tomos Williams (Cardiff Blues); Rob Evans (Scarlets), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Tomas Francis (Exeter), Adam Beard (Ospreys), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, captain), Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Ross Moriarty (Dragons).
Replacements: Elliot Dee (Dragons), Wyn Jones (Scarlets), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Cory Hill (Dragons), Aaron Wainwright (Dragons), Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Dan Biggar (Northampton), Owen Watkin (Ospreys).
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