Australia vs Wales: Josh Hathaway to make his debut and Aaron Wainwright earns 50th cap in Sydney opening Test | Rugby Union News

Josh Hathaway will make his Test debut, Aaron Wainwright earns his 50th international cap and Ben Thomas has been handed the fly-half role for when Wales face Australia in Sydney on Saturday.

Aberystwyth-born Gloucester back Hathaway, who has represented Wales and England at under-20 level, starts on the wing.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland moved quickly to secure the 20-year-old’s services, which was brought into sharp focus after Exeter wing Immanuel Feyi-Waboso was in a similar position last season and chose England.

“We want to make sure we qualify him for Wales,” Gatland said, after naming his training squad in June.

“He is a young player with a lot of potential and we think there is a lot of improvement in his game, whether it is wing or full-back.”

A reshuffled back-three from the team beaten by world champions South Africa at Twickenham sees Liam Williams move from wing to full-back, with Cameron Winnett dropping out after starting Wales’ last six Tests.

Thomas, meanwhile, makes his first international appearance since 2021 after being preferred to Sam Costelow in the number 10 shirt.

He will have some familiar faces alongside him, though, with Cardiff colleagues Ellis Bevan and Mason Grady starting at scrum-half and inside centre, respectively.

Elsewhere, there is a first Test start for Sydney-born Bath prop Archie Griffin, while Exeter forwards Christ Tshiunza and Dafydd Jenkins join forces in the second row and number eight Wainwright brings up his half-century of international appearances.

Williams, Wainwright and prop Gareth Thomas are the only starting line-up survivors from Wales’ record 40-6 victory over Australia at the 2023 World Cup.

Wales face a tough task against the Wallabies, having not beaten them Down Under since 1969, losing 11 successive games.

Gatland said: “We have had a good week of preparations here in Sydney, and are excited to get out on the field on Saturday.

“This first Test is going to be a great challenge for us.

“Test matches are all about fine margins and we know we need to be accurate, keep our discipline and stay in the fight for the full 80 minutes.

“There is a lot of talent within the Australia squad and we know they will want to come out firing and put in a performance against us.”

Wales: L Williams (Kubota Spears); J Hathaway (Gloucester), O Watkin (Ospreys), M Grady (Cardiff), R Dyer (Dragons); B Thomas (Cardiff), E Bevan (Cardiff); G Thomas (Ospreys), D Lake (Ospreys, capt), A Griffin (Bath), C Tshiunza (Exeter), D Jenkins (Exeter), T Plumtree (Scarlets), T Reffell (Leicester), A Wainwright (Dragons).

Replacements: E Lloyd (Cardiff), K Mathias (Scarlets), H O’Connor (Scarlets), C Hill (Secom Rugguts), J Botham (Cardiff), K Hardy (Ospreys), S Costelow (Scarlets), N Tompkins (Saracens).

Wright captains new-look Australia in Schmidt’s first Test in charge

Former Ireland boss Joe Schmidt takes charge of Australia for the first time after succeeding Eddie Jones as head coach and has named a new-look team for the opening Test against Wales.

Joe Schmidt enjoyed a successful run as Ireland head coach from 2013 to 2019, including six Six Nations championships

Flanker Liam Wright has been named captain, with uncapped centre Josh Flook and lock Jeremy Williams also selected.

Williams will partner in the second row with Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, who is returning from a stint in England with Northampton for his first Test since 2021.

Tom Wright, who missed selection for the World Cup squad last year, returns at full-back and Andrew Kellaway will move to the wing. Filipo Daugunu was recalled to start on the other wing.

There are also five newcomers among the replacements, including Tom Lynagh, who is the son of Wallabies World Cup winner Michael Lynagh and brother of Italy international Louis Lynagh.

Australia: 15) Tom Wright, 14) Andrew Kellaway, 13) Josh Flook, 12) Hunter Paisami, 11) Filipo Daugunu, 10) Noah Lolesio, 9) Jake Gordon; 1) James Slipper, 2) Matt Faessler, 3) Taniela Tupou, 4) Jeremy Williams, 5) Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 6) Liam Wright (c), 7) Fraser McReight, 8) Rob Valetini

Watch Wales against Australia live on Saturday from 10.30am on Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Main Event (10.45am kick-off). Stream rugby’s summer internationals in 2024 and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership. No contract, cancel anytime.

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