Six Nations: George North to win 100th Wales cap against England

Six Nations 2021: Wales v England
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Saturday, 27 February Kick-off: 16:45 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds, BBC iPlayer & Radio 5 Live, BBC Sport website and app, S4C

George North will win his 100th cap for Wales as he returns from injury as one of five changes for Saturday's Six Nations match against England.

North is at outside centre and will be partnered by Jonathan Davies, who is also back from injury at 12.

Scrum-half Kieran Hardy gets a first Six Nations start, with Gareth Davies on the bench.

Wing Josh Adams returns from suspension as Liam Williams moves to full-back with Leigh Halfpenny dropping out.

There is also a return from injury for Josh Navidi, who replaces Aaron Wainwright at blind-side flanker, while the back-row cover on the bench is provided by James Botham.

Also among the replacements is Botham's Cardiff Blues team-mate Willis Halaholo, who made an impressive debut in the away win against Scotland earlier this month.

That means the starting centres at Murrayfield, Owen Watkin and Nick Tompkins, are left out of the match-day squad.

Full-back Halfpenny misses out having suffered concussion during the victory in Edinburgh while Cory Hill takes over as lock cover on the bench from Will Rowlands.

There are a total of 902 caps in the starting Wales XV, making it the most experienced in the country's history.

Wales, who beat Ireland on the opening weekend, will clinch the Triple Crown on Saturday if they beat an England side with one defeat and one win from their two fixtures to date.

"We've had a great two weeks leading into this game and we are looking forward to Saturday," said Wales head coach Wayne Pivac.

"We continue to build and we know there is plenty left in us in terms of improvements from the opening two rounds. We are two from two but we want to continue to improve performance-wise.

"Saturday is a great milestone for George. It is a huge achievement at his age and we are looking forward to seeing him in action."

North will become the youngest player in the world to win 100 caps for his country, beating Australia flanker Michael Hooper's record by 28 days.

North and Davies returning to full fitness posed Pivac with a selection dilemma in midfield, having used six centres in just two matches in this Six Nations.

With Johnny Williams fit again but missing out on selection like Tompkins and Watkin, Pivac explained why he opted for the pairing of North and Davies.

"We think George has played well for us when available at 13. He brings a lot of excitement to the position," said Pivac.

"He's got that outside break, he's big and strong, he can do the donkey work in the middle of the park if he needs to.

"Jonathan brings a wealth of experience and we look at him as a 12, not as a 13. The last time he played for us was at 12 against Italy and I thought he did a good job in attack and defence on that day.

"He's had a good week of preparation under his belt in combination with George, and also how players have looked in training is important as well.

"Foxy [Davies] is looking very good from our point of view and when he pulls that Welsh jersey on, he never lets the team down."

Pivac also explained why he chose to start Hardy at scrum-half instead of his more experienced Scarlets team-mate Davies.

"There are two thoughts. One is form," the New Zealander said.

"He [Hardy] did everything that we wanted him to do when he went on under pressure against Scotland. He ticked the box in terms of being a young man under pressure.

"With Gareth, it's well known what he can do off the bench, when defences start to tire. On this occasion, we've turned things around the other way.

"It's going to be a big occasion for Kieran and he's excited by the occasion. We'll learn a lot from it, as will he."

Wales team to face England

Liam Williams; Louis Rees-Zammit, George North, Jonathan Davies, Josh Adams; Dan Biggar, Kieran Hardy; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Rhodri Jones, Leon Brown, Cory Hill, James Botham, Gareth Davies, Callum Sheedy, Willis Halaholo.

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