Gatland rings changes for Wallabies test

Wales coach Warren Gatland has made six changes, including moving powerhouse wing George North to centre in one of two positional switches, when naming his side to play Australia in this weekend’s World Cup Pool A decider at Twickenham.

New Zealand-born Gareth Anscombe is set for his first Test start at full-back in place of the injured Matthew Morgan, in a back three that sees Liam Williams recalled after the wing missed Wales’ 23-13 win over Fiji because of concussion.

“He’s cool headed, he brings confidence and assurance,” said Gatland of fellow Kiwi Anscombe, qualified for Wales through his mother.

Elsewhere in the backs, North is set to provide Wales with an especially powerful midfield alongside regular centre Jamie Roberts.

Up front, Luke Charteris comes into Wales’ second row and Paul James starts at prop in place of Gethin Jenkins.

Meanwhile skipper Sam Warburton moves across the back-row to blindside flanker, allowing Justin Tipuric to start at openside.

The winners of Saturday’s match will top the group and so avoid two-time world champions South Africa in the quarter-finals, with Scotland and Japan competing for the runners-up spot in Pool B and the right to face either Australia or Wales in the last eight.

Wales and Australia have already qualified for the quarter-finals.

They each beat knocked-out tournament hosts England in pool play and both sides have won all three of their matches at this World Cup so far.

Australia have won their last 10 Tests against Wales – including a third-place playoff clash at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

However, Warburton said topping the pool and maintaining a run of form which has seen his side beaten just once – by Ireland in a warm-up match – in their last 10 matches, was the team’s driving force

“We want to be top of the pool to say we won four out of four. Out of the last 10 matches, we’ve only lost one. It’s good to keep momentum going.”

Warburton added: “It’s a huge motivation to end top and avoid a southern hemisphere draw.

“I don’t think the boys mind either way. There’s no easy way to win a World Cup.”

Wales will effectively be playing two openside flankers in Warburton and Justin Tipuric, with both players renowned for their work at the breakdown.

It was a tactic used to superb effect by Australia in a 33-13 win over England last weekend, where David Pocock and Michael Hooper starred for the Wallabies in a result that condemned the hosts to a group-stage exit following their 28-25 loss to Wales.

Hooper, however, will miss Saturday’s match after receiving a one-week ban for shoulder-charging England full-back Mike Brown.

“I was looking forward to playing both of them,” said Warburton, the captain of a British and Irish Lions side, coached by Gatland, that won a Test series in Australia two years ago.

“It’s a great challenge and what you want to do in World Cups.

“You don’t get breakdown threats as accomplished as them in the northern hemisphere, so it’s great to play the boys from down south.”

Wales side to play Australia:

Gareth Anscombe; Alex Cuthbert, George North, Jamie Roberts, Liam Williams; Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Taulupe Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Sam Warburton (capt); Alun Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris; Samson Lee, Scott Baldwin, Paul James.

Reserves: Ken Owens, Aaron Jarvis, Tomas Francis, Jake Ball, Ross Moriarty, Lloyd Williams, Rhys Priestland, James Hook.

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