France v Wales: Alun Wyn Jones to equal Richie McCaw's caps world record

Alun Wyn Jones: I'm more excited for the debutants who'll come off the bench
International rugby: France v Wales
Venue: Stade de France Date: 24 October Kick-off: 20:10 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary. Live on S4C.

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones is set to equal Richie McCaw's world record of 148 caps when he faces France in Paris on Saturday.

It will be his 139th international for Wales to go alongside nine Tests for the British and Irish Lions over three tours of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Gloucester teenage wing Louis Rees-Zammit is set to win his first cap from the replacements bench.

The match will be behind closed doors.

Ospreys hooker Sam Parry joins Rees-Zammit as the other uncapped player on Wales' bench.

Captain Jones was meant to have drawn level with McCaw's record against Scotland at the Principality Stadium in March, before the match was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"It is a fabulous achievement," said Wales head coach Wayne Pivac.

"He epitomises what a great rugby player is all about. He is a true professional on and off the field and a gentleman of the game.

"On the field he leads by example and you can't ask more of your captain and we are very privileged here in Wales to have him."

The 35-year-old will be partnered by Cardiff Blues lock Cory Hill, who makes his first international start since the Six Nations win over England in February 2019.

Rhys Carre, Ryan Elias and Samson Lee form a new-look Wales front row.

Louis Rees-Zammit and George North
Louis Rees-Zammit in Wales training with George North during the 2020 Six Nations

Hooker Elias starts following a shoulder injury to Ken Owens, while tight-head Lee features in his first Test since August 2019 after not being selected for the 2019 World Cup.

With flanker Josh Navidi missing through concussion, Aaron Wainwright, Taulupe Faletau and Justin Tipuric make up the back-row.

Ross Moriarty was due to start at blindside flanker but picked up an ankle injury in training and will be sidelined for at least a few weeks.

"With Ross, the next few days will tell a story," added Pivac.

"He will get a scan and we are hoping it will be a handful of weeks as opposed to months."

Both Moriarty and Navidi will miss the match against Scotland.

Moriarty has been replaced by Wainwright, while Cardiff Blues back-rower Shane Lewis-Hughes has been added to the squad.

Scrum-half Rhys Webb will make his first start for Wales in almost three years.

He made Six Nations replacement appearances against Italy and England earlier this year and was due to start in the Scotland game.

Centre Jonathan Davies makes his first international appearance in almost a year after recovering from a serious knee injury and will partner Nick Tompkins for the first time.

Wales coach Wayne Pivac salutes Alun Wyn Jones and discusses his team selection for France

With Liam Williams released back to Scarlets, George North joins fellow wing Josh Adams and full-back Leigh Halfpenny in the back three.

This is despite North only playing 14 minutes since Welsh rugby's resumption in August after being sent off for Ospreys against Dragons for a dangerous tackle.

"The players are excited, it has been a long time, we can't wait for Saturday," added Pivac.

"We have six matches this autumn and the game against France helps us get back into our stride international rugby-wise.

"We have picked an experienced side and are up against a good French team so we want to start this autumn well and get on the front foot for the Six Nations fixture against Scotland.

"We have talked already about how fortunate we are to be going about our work on a daily basis.

"A lot of people can't do that and within our organisation there are a lot of people not back at work. This is an opportunity to put some smiles on faces and make the nation proud."

In all, the Wales team shows seven changes from the side originally selected to face Scotland in March, with Adams, Jonathan Davies, Carre, Elias, Lee, Wainwright and Faletau the players to come in.

Wing Teddy Thomas is included in the French backline with Gael Fickou lining up in the centre.

France: Anthony Bouthier; Teddy Thomas, Virimi Vakatawa, Gael Fickou, Vincent Rattez; Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont; Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand, Mohamed Haouas, Bernard Le Roux, Paul Willemse, Francois Cros, Charles Ollivon (capt), Gregory Alldritt

Replacements: Camille Chat, Jean-Baptiste Gros, Demba Bamba, Romain Taofifenua, Dylan Cretin, Baptiste Serin, Arthur Vincent, Thomas Ramos.

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny; George North, Jonathan Davies, Nick Tompkins, Josh Adams; Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Rhys Carre, Ryan Elias, Samson Lee, Cory Hill, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Aaron Wainwright, Taulupe Faletau, Justin Tipuric.

Replacements: Sam Parry, Nicky Smith, Dillon Lewis, Seb Davies, James Davies, Gareth Davies, Rhys Patchell, Louis Rees-Zammit.

Top Stories

Explore the BBC

Featured