Warburton out as Wales ring changes for Samoa
CARDIFF (AFP) –
Wales captain Sam Warburton was dropped to the bench for Friday’s make-or-break autumn international against Samoa as interim coach Rob Howley made a raft of changes from the team that lost to Argentina.
Saturday’s 26-12 defeat by the Pumas at the Millennium Stadium was Wales’ fourth loss in a row and left them contemplating the prospect of suffering an autumn whitewash with Australia, who beat them 3-0 in a Test series in June, and New Zealand, who haven’t lost to the Welsh since 1953, heading to Cardiff.
Howley, much criticised for his selection policy after the Argentina loss, responded by making eight changes to his starting XV, with Warburton’s place going to Justin Tipuric.
As Six Nations Grand Slam-winning captain Warburton, who also led Wales to the semi-finals of last year’s World Cup in New Zealand, was on the bench, the captaincy passed to former skipper Ryan Jones, who is now set to lead his country for a record 29th time.
Howley, as well as giving starts to Tipuric and Jones, has also brought in centre Ashley Beck, outside-half Dan Biggar, scrum-half Mike Phillips, second row Bradley Davies, hooker Richard Hibbard and prop Paul James into his 1st XV.
Centre Jamie Roberts retained his place in the run-on side despite going off in the first half against Argentina with what the Welsh Rugby Union described as mild concussion.
Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, Ashley Beck, Jamie Roberts, George North; Dan Biggar, Mike Phillips; Toby Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Ryan Jones (capt); Ian Evans, Bradley Davies; Aaron Jarvis, Richard Hibbard, Paul James
Replacements: Ken Owens, Gethin Jenkins, Scott Andrews, Luke Charteris, Sam Warburton, Tavis Knoyle, Rhys Priestland, Scott Williams