Six Nations 2022 – Dan Biggar and Alun Wyn Jones reach Wales milestones against Italy – SPORT NEWS PEDIA

Rugby, rugby-union, Six Nations 2022 - Dan Biggar and Alun Wyn Jones reach Wales milestones against Italy, sport

Dan Biggar and Alun Wyn Jones will both reach major milestones in Wales’ Six Nations finale against Italy.

Jones, 36, is back from a shoulder injury and will win his 150th Wales cap in his first game since October.

Biggar retains the captaincy and will become the seventh Welshman to win 100 caps for his country.

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The 32-year-old follows in the footsteps of Jones, Gethin Jenkins, Stephen Jones, George North, Gareth Thomas and Martyn Williams.

Head coach Wayne Pivac has made seven changes to the side defeated by France 13-9 last Friday.

Johnny McNicholl, Louis Rees-Zammit, Willis Halaholo and Gareth Davies are recalled in the backline, while Dewi Lake, Dillon Lewis and last year’s Lions captain Jones are the forwards who come in.

Liam Williams, Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Tomos Williams, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis and Will Rowlands drop out of the starting side.

Milestone men
Northampton fly-half Biggar will again captain the team and partner scrum-half Gareth Davies, who replaces Tomos Williams, who has a head injury.

Biggar celebrated his 100th international appearance in February’s victory against Scotland, with his Wales caps supplemented by three British and Irish Tests.

World-record cap holder Jones starts alongside Ospreys team-mate Adam Beard in the second row as Rowlands drops to the bench.

For the second time in less than a year, the veteran lock has defied medical predictions to make an early return to action.

Last summer he captained the Lions in their Test series against South Africa after swiftly overcoming a shoulder injury.

And after suffering another shoulder problem in Wales’ autumn Test against New Zealand five months ago – he required two operations – many forecasts suggested Jones might struggle to play again this season.

But he is back and set to win his 150th Wales cap alongside his 12 Lions Tests, to stretch his world appearance record to 162 internationals.

“Dan and Al are huge players for Wales and have been for many years now,” said Pivac.

“We’ve said with other players reaching 100 appearances what an achievement that is and for Dan I know he’s been looking forward to this moment for a long time.

“For him to achieve it with Al, who is also getting the milestone of 150 caps – which no other player has ever done – I think it’s fitting for those two to share the day.

“They’ve played a lot of rugby together and have a healthy respect for each other. They’ve given so much for the game in Wales.”

Backline reshuffle
After failing to score a try against France, Pivac has revamped his backline with Scarlets full-back McNicholl replacing Liam Williams.

Gloucester wing Rees-Zammit starts after being left out of the starting side for the last two games as he is preferred to Cuthbert.

There is another new centre partnership with Owen Watkin alongside Halaholo, who is given his first chance of this Six Nations after missing the tournament’s start through injury, while Nick Tompkins is named on the bench.

Up front, hooker Lake will make his first start after four replacement appearances and will pack down in a new-look front-row alongside Cardiff prop Lewis and Ospreys prop Gareth Thomas.

The back-row trio of Seb Davies, Josh Navidi and Taulupe Faletau remains the same.

Wales are currently fifth, but can finish third if they pick up a second win to add to the victory against Scotland and defeats by Ireland, England and France.

“We’ve made a few changes this week,” added Pivac.

“With one game to go there are some players we need to see out there and put them in the matchday 23.

“We’ve selected a side which we think can get the job done. Clearly that’s what we’re here for.

“There’s an opportunity to move up that table, so we think this is an exciting team and one we’re looking forward to seeing out there.”

Wales: McNicholl; Rees-Zammit, Watkin, Halaholo, Adams; Biggar (capt), G Davies; Thomas, Lake, Lewis, Beard, AW Jones, S Davies, Navidi, Faletau.

Replacements: Roberts, W Jones, L Brown, Rowlands, Moriarty, Hardy, Sheedy, Tompkins.

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