Autumn Internationals: Louis Rees-Zammit to make first international start for Wales at full-back
Louis Rees-Zammit will start for Wales at full-back for the first time; Wales will face Los Pumas under a closed roof at Principality Stadium on Saturday (5.30pm kick-off); Justin Tipuric will again lead the side, he starts in the back-row with Dan Lydiate and Taulupe Faletau
Last Updated: 11/11/22 7:32pm
Louis Rees-Zammit will start for Wales at full-back for the first time in Saturday's Autumn Nations Series game against Argentina.
Earlier this week, Leigh Halfpenny was ruled out of the Cardiff encounter due to a hamstring injury and with Liam Williams also injured, head coach Wayne Pivac has opted to move Rees-Zammit to 15.
Alex Cuthbert, who has recovered from a shoulder issue, starts on one wing and Rio Dyer, a try-scorer on his debut against New Zealand last weekend, has been selected on the other.
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Justin Tipuric will once again captain the side and he starts at openside flanker with Dan Lydiate and Taulupe Faletau completing the back-row. The trio boast 246 international caps between them and Lydiate is poised to make his first appearance of the Autumn Nations Series.
Gareth Anscombe, who deputised for Halfpenny five days ago, reverts to fly-half, replacing Rhys Priestland.
Prop Dillon Lewis starts instead of Tomas Francis and joins forces with Ken Owens and Gareth Thomas in the front-row. Will Rowlands and Adam Beard are handed starting roles in the second-row.
Wales' Autumn Internationals
|Saturday, November 5||Wales 23-55 New Zealand|
|Saturday, November 12||Wales vs Argentina||5.30pm|
|Saturday, November 19||Wales vs Georgia||1pm|
|Saturday, November 26||Wales vs Australia||3.15pm|
There is no place in the 23 for Wales' record cap holder Alun Wyn Jones, as Ben Carter provides second-row cover, with other bench changes seeing props Rhodri Jones and Sam Wainwright selected, plus Priestland and Ospreys flanker Jac Morgan.
"He's trained there [full-back] the entire week," Pivac said about Rees-Zammit.
"He's looked good in training and it's something we've explored in the background, so it will be good information going forwards with the Six Nations around the corner and the Rugby World Cup.
"Dillon (Lewis) had done well in South Africa. This is probably the last opportunity to give guys starts and learn as much as we can. Both Dillon and Dan Lydiate have trained well."
Wales: 15 Louis Rees-Zammit, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 George North, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Rio Dyer, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Tomos Williams, 1 Gareth Thomas, 2 Ken Owens, 3 Dillon Lewis, 4 Will Rowlands, 5 Adam Beard, 6 Dan Lydiate, 7 Justin Tipuric (c), 8 Taulupe Faletau.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Sam Wainwright, 19 Ben Carter, 20 Jac Morgan, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Owen Watkin.
Cuthbert backs Rees-Zammit to impress vs Pumas
Wales wing Cuthbert believes Rees-Zammit's ability to learn and absorb information "like a sponge" will underpin his intriguing positional switch.
For only the third time in 80 games for Gloucester, Wales and the British and Irish Lions, Rees-Zammit starts at full-back.
The prolific try-scoring wing steps in with Leigh Halfpenny and Liam Williams both injured, while Cuthbert fills Wales' number 14 shirt vacated by Rees-Zammit.
The 21-year-old has showcased mesmeric skills during a rapid rise from Gloucester's academy to Test rugby, and Cuthbert believes he will take it in his stride.
"He is one of the quickest players in rugby, and they (Argentina) have to be wary if they want to kick it long and give him space," Cuthbert said.
"Hopefully, he can get a lot of ball in space and then that gives myself and Rio (Dyer) a bit more space out wide because they are going to have to mark him up.
"I am looking forward to seeing Louis at 15. He has trained really well in the position all week, and it will be exciting to see him have a crack at it.
"We do a lot of sort of extras together in training, and a youngster like Louis is really like a sponge, just taking everything in as much as possible."
Rees-Zammit was a 10-year-old schoolboy when Cuthbert made his Wales debut against Australia in 2011.
The Ospreys wing is back to win a 53rd cap after recent injury troubles, and he remains a key part of Wales head coach Wayne Pivac's plans ahead of next year's World Cup in France.
"I have had my targets for the last couple of months, and I have hit them all and I am just excited to get back out there," Cuthbert added.
"They (Argentina) have got some serious firepower in the front-five, so we are going to have to match up physically.
"I think everyone is fighting for positions and you know how much of a big year it is, and everyone is just sort of trying to get better every campaign.
"I probably feel better physically and mentally than I have in many years. I feel like I am getting better as a player."
Pivac: Reaction needed from Wales
The 55 points Wales conceded to the All Blacks last weekend at the Principality Stadium is the most they have conceded during 138 years of Test rugby in the Welsh capital, and it included eight tries.
Pivac expects his side to bounce back on Saturday afternoon and knows they need to do so against a fired-up Argentina side following their victory over England.
"We saw last week what Argentina are capable of," the head coach said.
"They're a very big team, very strong up front. They have expanded their attacking game and they took an excellent try against England from the set-play. They've knocked over some big scalps in the last 18 months, New Zealand being one of them.
"They are going to be a big challenge but one we're looking forward to. After last week's performance we need a reaction from our team."
Cheika keeps Argentina XV together for Wales Test
Argentina's head coach Michael Cheika has named an unchanged starting XV to take on Wales in Cardiff.
The team will again be led by Julian Montoya, who starts in the front-row alongside Thomas Gallo and Francisco Gomez Kodela.
Emiliano Boffelli will be looking to do more damage on the scoreboard after delivering 25 of Los Pumas' 30 points at Twickenham as they edged out England on Sunday.
Half-backs Santiago Carreras and Gonzalo Betranou are likely to test new international full-back Rees-Zammit, with Jeronimo de la Fuente and Matias Moroni combining in midfield for Los Pumas.
Argentina: 15 Juan Cruz Mallia, 14 Mateo Carreras, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Gonzalo Betranou; 1 Thomas Gallo, 2 Julian Montoya (c), 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 4 Matias Alemanno, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 6 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 7 Marcos Kremer, 8 Pablo Matera
Replacements: 16 Ignacio Ruiz, 17 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 Lucas Paulos, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Eliseo Morales, 22 Tomas Albornoz, 23 Matias Orlando.