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Phillips names Wales XV for Women’s Six Nations opener in France

Phillips names Wales XV for Women’s Six Nations opener in France
  • Wales welcome back Hannah Jones and Alisha Butchers
  • Carys Phillips captains the side as they play last year's Grand Slam winners
  • France took a 38-3 victory in last year's Championship

Wales Women’s head coach Rowland Phillips is expecting a physical battle when they face France in their Women’s Six Nations opener on Saturday.

He has named his XV for game against last year’s Grand Slam champions in Montpellier.

There are two changes from Wales’ last Test, when they lost out to Canada at the Cardiff Arms Park in November.

Scarlets pair Hannah Jones and Alisha Butchers return to the side – Jones will partner Alicia McComish in the centre while Butchers returns from injury to start on the blindside flank.

There is a reshuffle in the back row with Beth Lewis starting at No.8 in place of the injured Sioned Harries and Manon Johnes starting on the openside.

Captain Carys Phillips packs down in the front row, flanked by props Caryl Thomas and Amy Evans – while Ospreys’ Siwan Lillicrap and Mel Clay will form the second-row pairing.

Keira Bevan and Robyn Wilkins are the half-backs, while Lisa Neumann, Jasmine Joyce and Lauren Smyth make up the back three.

From the bench, Scarlets’ Alex Callender could make her international debut.

Phillips said: “Physicality will be key against France on Saturday. That is their strength and they will come out flying.

“That is an area we have been working on. We’ve prepared for it and now we need to keep our focus from minutes one to 80.

“Not only do we need to stand up to the physical challenge France will bring but we need to impose our own tempo on the game too.

“Playing France away from home is the only place you’ll experience such a cauldron in terms of the huge crowd and welcome and that’s something the players must embrace and feed off.

“France are the envy of the women’s rugby world at the moment and our players will certainly gain from the experience.”

 

Wales Women v France. Saturday 2 February 9pm (local time). Live on S4C 8pm GMT:

15. Lauren Smyth (Ospreys)
14. Jasmine Joyce (Scarlets)
13. Hannah Jones (Scarlets)
12. Alicia McComish (Dragons)
11. Lisa Neumann (RGC)
10. Robyn Wilkins (Blues)
9. Keira Bevan (Ospreys)
1. Caryl Thomas (Dragons)
2. Carys Phillips (c) (Ospreys)
3. Amy Evans (Ospreys)
4. Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys)
5. Mel Clay (Ospreys)
6. Alisha Butchers (Scarlets)
7. Manon Johnes (Blues)
8. Bethan Lewis (Dragons)

 

Replacements:

16. Kelsey Jones (Ospreys)
17. Cara Hope (Ospreys)
18. Cerys Hale (Dragons)
19. Natalia John (Ospreys)
20. Alex Callender (*Scarlets)
21. Ffion Lewis (Scarlets)
22. Elinor Snowsill (Bristol Bears)
23. Jess Kavanagh (RGC)
*uncapped player