CARDIFF, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Wales have handed a first cap to wing Rio Dyer and recalled three stalwarts for their opening autumn international clash with New Zealand at the Principality Stadium on Saturday.
Dyer, 22, comes in for the injured Josh Adams, while coach Wayne Pivac has been boosted by the return of fullback Leigh Halfpenny, hooker Ken Owens and flanker Justin Tipuric, all of whom have faced long spells on the sidelines through injury.
Tipuric takes over as captain from injured flyhalf Dan Biggar, who is replaced by Gareth Anscombe at number 10.
"It’s great having Ken Owens, Justin Tipuric and Leigh Halfpenny back. They bring a lot of experience and they are big game players," Pivac said in a media release from Welsh Rugby on Thursday.
"Rio has fitted in really well and really quickly. He’s thriving in this environment. He’s a young man that’s bringing some form with him into camp. He scored some great tries and he’s full of confidence."
Wing Louis Rees-Zammit is the third member of the back three, while George North and Nick Tompkins start at centre for the fourth time in succession.
Tomos Williams is in at scrumhalf and will hope for front-foot ball from his forward pack, with Tommy Reffell and number eight Taulupe Faletau partnering Tipuric at the back of the scrum.
Will Rowlands and Adam Beard are the lock pairing, with Gareth Thomas and Tomas Francis either side of Owens in the front row.
"New Zealand is going to play with speed, we know that," Pivac said. "The roof is closed so we’re looking forward to a fast, open game and I think Justin brings that extra bit of speed to the number six jersey. So the combination (of Tipuric, Reffell and Faletau) we think will work well."
15. Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets – 96 caps)
14. Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby – 19 caps)
13. George North (Ospreys – 105 caps)
12. Nick Tompkins (Saracens – 23 caps)
11. Rio Dyer (Dragons – uncapped)
10. Gareth Anscombe (Ospreys – 32 caps)
9. Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 36 caps)
1. Gareth Thomas (Ospreys – 13 caps)
2. Ken Owens (Scarlets – 82 caps)
3. Tomas Francis (Ospreys – 65 caps)
4. Will Rowlands (Dragons – 21 caps)
5. Adam Beard (Ospreys – 37 caps)
6. Justin Tipuric (Ospreys – 85 caps) captain
7. Tommy Reffell (Leicester Tigers – 3 caps)
8. Taulupe Faletau (Cardiff Rugby – 91 caps)
16. Ryan Elias (Scarlets – 30 caps)
17. Nicky Smith (Ospreys – 41 caps)
18. Dillon Lews (Cardiff Rugby- 41 caps)
19. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys – 153 caps)
20. Christ Tshiunza (Exeter Chiefs – 2 caps)
21. Kieran Hardy (Scarlets – 14 caps)
22. Rhys Priestland (Cardiff Rugby – 52 caps)
23. Owen Watkin (Ospreys – 33 caps)
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