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Halaholo makes first start of autumn campaign as Wales welcome Wallabies to Cardiff

International | 18th November 2021


Uilisi Halaholo will make his first start of the Autumn Nations Series as Wales host Australia in the final encounter of the campaign on Saturday (KO 5.30pm).

The seven-times capped Cardiff star was ruled out of the opening two weeks after testing positive for Covid-19, but returned to the matchday squad for last week’s victory over Fiji at Principality Stadium.

Halaholo was a late change to Wayne Pivac’s 23 - after Josh Adams withdrew with an injury in the warm up - but impressed as a second half replacement against the Pacific Islanders.

The centre is one of seven changes made to Wales’ starting XV, with British and Irish Lion, Adams, overcoming his calf injury, returning to the wing.

Ellis Jenkins continues as captain, joining Dragons duo Taine Basham and Aaron Wainwright in the back row, while Tomos Williams regains the number nine jersey.

Seb Davies, who has featured as a replacement in all three games to date, is drafted into the second row to partner Adam Beard, with Will Rowlands ruled out due to concussion.

Two further Blue and Blacks feature on the bench in the form of prop Dillon Lewis and outside half Rhys Priestland, who appeared against New Zealand in the opening round of action.

Elsewhere, Wyn Jones and Tomas Francis return to the front row as Liam Williams and Louis Rees-Zammit retain their spots in the back three after try-scoring performances against Fiji.

Christ Tshiunza, a former Cardiff age grade player, is named amongst the replacements after making his debut on Sunday.

Head coach Pivac said: “It’s been a tough campaign but one where we’ve exposed more players to this level of rugby, which all bodes well for the future. 

“With the injuries we’ve faced, we have had to adapt and those are opportunities that some of the players have taken very well.

“Australia have been on the road for a while now, the series they had down South and a couple of losses in the last couple of games. 

“They’ll be hurting from that and they’ll want to finish their tour on a high note, as we’d like to finish our campaign on a high note. It bodes well for a pretty interesting fixture.

“Dave Rennie brings a physical approach to the game and we certainly expect that from the Australians but we have to be able to match that and impose ourselves on the game. 

“It’s going to be an enthralling encounter I think and a great way to finish a series. We’re really looking forward to Saturday.

“This week I’d encourage [the crowd] to be even louder, and noisier, and back the boys. They’ve worked really hard so to have that 16th man, if you like, really pushing and driving the team on, we’d really, really appreciate that.”

Wales: Liam Williams (Scarlets Rugby); Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby), Nick Tompkins (Saracens), Willis Halaholo (Cardiff Rugby), Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby); Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints), Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby); Wyn Jones (Scarlets), Ryan Elias (Scarlets), Tomas Francis (Ospreys), Adam Beard (Ospreys), Seb Davies (Cardiff Rugby), Ellis Jenkins (Cardiff Rugby, captain), Taine Basham (Dragons), Aaron Wainwright (Dragons)

Replacements: Elliot Dee (Dragons), Gareth Thomas (Ospreys), Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Rugby), Ben Carter (Dragons), Christ Tshiunza (Exeter Chiefs), Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Rhys Priestland (Cardiff Rugby), Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets)

Cardiff Rugby have tickets available for Saturday's autumn finale against the Wallabies, which always produces a classic! For more information, please contact [email protected] or phone 029 20 30 20 30 (9am-5pm).

Join us at Cardiff Arms Park, in the heart of the capital, for an electric matchday atmosphere at the official Guinness Fan Village! The iconic stadium is open to supporters of all ages with live music, plenty of food and drink and live screening of the day's rugby action on offer! No bookings required - we can't wait to see you! Gates open at 1.00pm!