Warren Gatland says he is “looking at the bigger picture” after making five changes for Wales’ second Test against Argentina on Saturday.
Wales beat Argentina to win 23-10 in San Juan last weekend to go 1-0 up in the two-match series.
But Wales head coach Gatland has decided to make significant changes for the second Test in Santa Fe, with Ellis Jenkins, Tomas Francis, Ryan Elias, Aled Davies and Owen Watkin all coming into the side.
“We’ve made five changes to the starting line-up as we want to see a few players from the start and give those players a bit more opportunity,” Gatland said of his team selection.
“Looking at the objectives of this tour, we are right on track, we have won two games from two, but more importantly we have exposed players to Test match rugby.
“We have given more opportunity and that was the aim coming in.
“We want to go home three from three but we know the challenge that we are up against this weekend and we also are looking at the bigger picture.
🔈Team Announcement: Wales make 5 changes for final summer tour test. @coryhill_ remains captain with Ellis Jenkins, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis, Aled Davies & Owen Watkin all coming into the side to face @lospumas 🏴 v 🇦🇷 pic.twitter.com/q93XhElCl3
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) June 14, 2018
“We might have picked a slightly different team if it was just about results, but it is about more than that, it is about building for 2019 and we are on the right track.
“Both Cory (Hill) and Ellis have been great on tour as co-captains. This week with them both in the side we have just gone for a bit of continuity with Cory doing the job as he did last weekend.
“Additionally, we are asking Ellis to play at six, so this allows him to concentrate on that role on Saturday.”
Wales left several of their established names at home this summer to give inexperienced players a taste of international rugby 15 months from the start of the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
But Wales have still managed to beat South Africa in Washington DC, as well as outplaying Argentina on home soil last weekend.
Jenkins comes in at blindside flanker to link up with James Davies on the openside and Ross Moriarty at number eight.
There is a new look front row with Elias and Francis making their first starts of the tour alongside Rob Evans.
Scrum-half Aled Davies also gets his first start as Watkin replaces the injured Hadleigh Parkes, who has suffered a compound fracture to his finger.
Prop forward Samson Lee also misses out and has returned home due to a back injury.
Brad Shields will start England’s second Test against South Africa after Chris Robshaw was dropped to the bench for the first time in his international career.
Shields, a New Zealander who qualifies through his parents, has been picked at blindside flanker to make his full debut just two weeks after joining up with Eddie Jones’ squad for the first time.
It is a bold selection call by Jones, who has viewed Robshaw as a key player until his decision to drop him from the matchday squad for Saturday’s clash in Bloemfontein.
“Based on South Africa’s likely selection of an extra line-out jumper we have decided to start with Brad Shields, which improves our line-out,” Jones said.
“It is tough on Chris Robshaw as he has been an outstanding player for us but I know he will bounce back.”
Ireland will be looking to avenge their first Test defeat when they face the Wallabies for the second of their three match series on Saturday (14:00 UAE time).
Here, we take a look at three key battles which could decide the outcome of the match in Melbourne.
DAVID POCOCK V DAN LEAVY
The Leinster man wasn’t included in the matchday squad for the first Test due to injury, but looks primed to contain the dominance of Pocock in Melbourne.
The 24-year-old has been instrumental this season for Leinster and Ireland with his strong offloading, solid carrying and smoking footwork all serious threats.
A high class operator at the breakdown, Leavy will need to cut down the impact of Pocock – with the Wallabies star having a field day against the Irish last Saturday.
The Waratahs man was making his first appearance last week since December 2016 and was a nuisance at the breakdown.
He made seven carries for 10 metres gained, made 15 tackles, won four turnovers, had a staggering 56 ruck involvements, claimed two line outs and scored a late try.
It might seem like a mammoth test for Leavy, but his ability to tackle, win his own ball and show willingness in the tight areas may help stem the Zimbabwean’s supremacy.
Although there is a vast level of experience between the duo, expect it to be a humdinger of a battle.
BERNARD FOLEY V JOHNNY SEXTON
The best out-half in the Northern Hemisphere returns to the starting line-up after being left on the bench for the first Test defeat in Brisbane.
The 32-year-old’s addition to the starting XV brings more to the table in terms of game management skills, kicking from hand and an ability to get the back-line moving at pace.
He can pin his opponents back deep into their own territory, with his game management skills critical to how the Men in Green perform in the 10-12 axis.
But his opposite number is one of just several obstacles standing in his way of Ireland’s threat in this area, with Foley part of a Wallabies back-line that can attack from any position.
Foley has chalked up 556 points from 56 Tests, at an average of 9.92 points a game, while Sexton has scored 683 points from 80 for an 8.53 average.
The 28-year-old – a try scorer in the first Test – can orchestrate the game from ten and with Will Genia alongside him in the half-backs, he will once again look to upset the tempo of Ireland.
Although Sexton’s kicking from tee has been off colour this season, he can still cause serious damage with ball in hand and solidity in defence. Will be central to Saturday’s result.
The Wallabies scrum was a massive strength in the first Test and Ireland will need to marshal this area if they are to gain a foothold in the contest.
Sio and Kepu were major parts of the Wallabies’ granite-like defence in Brisbane, with the latter in particular, shining with nine tackles and one turnover.
The Waratahs warrior remains a reliable presence, but his front-row partner Sio needs to make more of a contribution on the ground if they are to cut down the impact of a mighty Irish front three which features Healy and Furlong.
Furlong, the best tighthead in the world, is an imposing presence and always has the edge in the scrum, but he’ll need plenty of assistance from Healy to get the upperhand on a dominant Wallabies forward unit.
The Wallabies purred with confidence last Saturday, but with the return of first choice stars, Ireland will hoping to step up against Michael Cheika’s side.
Set up to be one of the tightest battles on the pitch.