In a match which will bid farewell to three of Wales’ trusted stalwarts of the last decade. Lee Halfpenny will don the Welsh jersey for the final time, whilst Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric will also have their swansong to international rugby in the black and white of the Barbarians.
In the first match since Wales’ 29-17 World Cup quarter-final loss to Argentina three weeks ago, Gatland has picked four members of his starting lineup against the Pumas with a mixed selection of fringe players in and around the World Cup squad.
Without the likes of Louis Rees-Zammit, Liam Williams, Dillon Lewis and Tomas Francis who are ineligible due to selection rulings, plus the retirement of Dan Biggar, the controversial Baa-baas match will allow Gatland the chance to cast eye over Wales’ next generation of future young stars.
Ospreys Jac Morgan will again lead the side, with veteran centre George North, number eight Aaron Wainright and lock Adam Beard the only survivors from the last-eight clash in Marseille.
Beard is joined by Dragons Ben Carter at second row, whilst there is a recall for loose forward Dan Lydiate.
Dragons prop Fairbrother will play his first game in a Wales jersey, where he will be joined in the front-row with Dewi Lake and Corey Domachowski.
Scarlets fly-half Sam Costelow is joined at half back by Cardiff’s Tomos Williams, with North partnered with Costelow’s club teammate Johnny Williams in midfield.
In a new look back three, the departing Halfpenny is partnered by Rio Dyer and Tom Rogers.
“Playing a Barbarians side filled with quality players is a good challenge for this group and a chance for players to put their hands up and show what they are about,” commented Gatland on his selection.
“We’ve drawn a line under the World Cup. There’s a good chance for these Welsh players to give a performance.
“It’ll be the last game in a Wales jersey for Leigh Halfpenny but also a chance for fans to see and celebrate Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric playing international rugby one last time.
“He [Halfpenny] has been an unbelievable servant. A lot of people have spoken about how professional he is. I can’t speak more highly of him as a rugby player and a person. He’s been a great example.
“We’re looking forward to getting back out in front of a home crowd on Saturday.”
Wales XV to face Barbarians:
Leigh Halfpenny, Tom Rogers, George North, Johnny Williams, Rio Dyer, Sam Costelow, Tomos Williams, Corey Domachowski, Dewi Lake, Lloyd Fairbrother, Ben Carter, Adam Beard, Dan Lydiate, Jac Morgan (captain), Aaron Wainwright.
Elliot Dee, Nicky Smith, Harri O‘Connor, Teddy Williams, Taine Plumtree, Keiran Hardy, Cai Evans, Mason Grady.
[Lead image: Welsh Rugby Union]
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