Rugby World Cup 2023: Dewi Lake captains much-changed Wales side against Portugal

Rugby World Cup 2023: Dewi Lake captains much-changed Wales side against Portugal

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Venue: Stade de Nice, Nice Date: Saturday, 16 Sept Kick-off: 16:45 BST
Coverage: Live BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Sounds, BBC Sport website & app; live text commentary on BBC Sport website & app.

Hooker Dewi Lake will captain Wales against Portugal in a side showing 13 changes from the team that defeated Fiji in their World Cup opener.

Only Taulupe Faletau and Louis Rees-Zammit survive in the starting side with Gareth Anscombe named at fly-half.

Exeter locks Dafydd Jenkins and Christ Tshiunza start, while scrum-half Tomos Williams wins his 50th cap.

“We’ve made a few changes this week given the six-day turnaround,” said head coach Warren Gatland.

“This is an opportunity now for this match-day 23. I’ve said before, but there’s some great competition within the squad which is what we want to see.

“There’s a chance now for this group to go out Saturday and to put down their own marker in the tournament.”

Centres Mason Grady and Johnny Williams join Lake and Tshiunza in making their first World Cup appearances, while flanker Dan Lydiate and full-back Leigh Halfpenny will be playing in their third tournaments.

Captain Lake

Lake, 24, was named as co-captain for the tournament alongside Jac Morgan, who led the side against Fiji.

Ospreys hooker Lake suffered a knee injury while captaining Wales against England at Twickenham in August and missed the victory against Fiji in Bordeaux.

Anscombe, 32, has not played for Wales since suffering a serious shoulder injury against Australia in November 2022. He missed the 2023 Six Nations tournament and three World Cup warm-up games in August.

It will be Anscombe’s first World Cup match since the 2015 quarter-final defeat against South Africa with the fly-half missing the 2019 tournament in Japan because of a serious knee injury. Sam Costelow is named among the replacements.

Exeter lock Dafydd Jenkins, 20, is the youngest member of the squad and makes his first World Cup start after coming on as a replacement against Fiji.

It is a first international start for the 21-year-old Tshiunza at lock after playing most of his senior club and international rugby so far at flanker.

The only member of the 33-man squad not to feature in the opening two games is prop Henry Thomas.

“We’ve done a thorough debrief of last week’s game and know the areas we need to improve,” said Gatland.

“We have a clear plan of how we want to play on Saturday and it’s about going out there and executing that as we have prepared.

“Portugal are a skilful side and will be raring to go this weekend in their first match of the tournament.

“We’re excited to get back out there and looking forward to seeing more great support from the travelling fans out in Nice.”

Wales face Australia in Lyon on 24 September before their final Pool C match against Georgia in Nantes 13 days later.

Wales team to face Portugal: L Halfpenny; Rees-Zammit, Grady, J Williams, Dyer; Anscombe, T Williams; Smith, Lake (capt), D Lewis, Tshiunza, Jenkins, Lydiate, Reffell, Faletau.

Replacements: Elias, Domachowski, Francis, Beard, Basham, G Davies, Costelow, Adams.

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