Flanker Aaron Wainwright will make his Rugby World Cup debut in Wales’ tournament opener against Georgia on Monday.
The 21-year-old features in Wales’ starting back-row alongside Justin Tipuric and Josh Navidi, with Ross Moriarty among the replacements.
Skipper Alun Wyn Jones will equal Gethin Jenkins’ Wales cap record of 129 appearances when he leads the team out in Toyota City.
Wales head coach Warren Gatland has chosen a starting line-up packed with star names as the Six Nations champions target a flying start.
Jones is joined by fellow British & Irish Lions Test players in Tipuric, full-back Liam Williams, wing George North, centre Jonathan Davies and hooker Ken Owens.
There is also a chance on the bench for fly-half Rhys Patchell, who has recovered from the concussion he suffered during Wales’ final World Cup warm-up game against Ireland in Dublin two weeks ago.
Elsewhere, there is a start for Scarlets prop Wyn Jones, and Jake Ball is Alun Wyn Jones’ second-row partner with Aaron Shingler providing lock cover among the replacements.
Squad locks Adam Beard and Cory Hill have targeted being available for the Australia game next weekend.
Beard has arrived in Toyota City after remaining at home to have his appendix removed last week, while Hill is recovering from a stress fracture to his leg.
After Georgia, Wales have a six-day turnaround before their Tokyo appointment with Australia that could decide which team wins Pool D.
And Monday’s meeting will be Wales’ first with Georgia since they posted an unconvincing 13-6 victory over them in Cardiff during the 2017 autumn Tests.
Wales go into the game after assistant coach Rob Howley was sent home from Japan earlier this week for an alleged breach of World Rugby’s betting regulations. Howley, 48, has returned to Wales to assist with an investigation.
Former Wales fly-half Stephen Jones has replaced Howley on the coaching team, and was involved in his first training session on Saturday.
Jacob Stockdale believes Ireland’s new-look back-three is dripping with attacking potential.
Ulster powerhouse Stockdale will link up with speed king Jordan Larmour at full-back and Andrew Conway on the other flank as Ireland finally open their Rugby World Cup campaign against Scotland on Sunday.
Joe Schmidt’s men are missing stalwart full-back Rob Kearney and the ultra-reliable wing Keith Earls, with both men unable to shake off niggles in time to feature in Yokohama.
But Stockdale sees the re-jig as a golden opportunity for Ireland to bolster their strike game, backing Larmour and Conway to light up the opening Pool A encounter.
“Obviously it’s a loss not to have Rob Kearney and Keith Earls, as they are so experienced,” said Stockdale.
“But Andrew Conway and Jordan Larmour have played a lot of rugby for Ireland, and I’ve played a fair bit of rugby with them too.
#RWC2019— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) September 20, 2019
8 of the starting XV will be making their first appearance at the global tournament while @rorybest2 packs down at hooker for his 121st Ireland cap and his 12th World Cup appearance. Team & Press conference#TeamofUs #ShoulderToShoulder https://t.co/5aur6rFPWH
“They are both exciting players to get to play with. They want to get onto the ball and attack, so as a winger that’s very exciting.”
Arch-finisher Stockdale already boasts 16 tries in 21 Test matches, which leaves him equal 10th on the nation’s try-scoring record – and all at the tender age of 23.
The Lisburn native will bid to extend that remarkable scoring record in Sunday’s pivotal clash with the Scots, and admitted to watching on in mild envy and great respect of Japan’s hat-trick hero Kotaro Matsushima.
Star wing Matsushima bagged a try treble as hosts Japan subdued Russia 30-10 to open the World Cup on Friday night.
Admitting to finding the tournament’s long-awaited arrival slightly surreal, Stockdale said he would love to emulate Matsushima’s prolific start, but that he also expected a stern challenge against Japan in Ireland’s second match of the tournament.
“When the pre-season started you thought it was going to be an age but it’s come around very quickly,” said Stockdale.
“The buzz around the World Cup in general, it’s a weird feeling to see it kick off and that it’s finally started.
“You can get a lot of messages from home, there’s a lot of buzz from home with people saying they are looking forward to watching it.
“Playing against Kotaro Matsushima two years ago was my second Test for Ireland, and he’s a serious handful.
“He’s got good gas, he doesn’t look that big but he’s very strong.
“He took his tries very well last night and was probably unlucky not to get a fourth.
“That’s exactly how you’d like it to go as a winger for your first game in the World Cup.
“He’s dangerous, so next week I’ll definitely have to take a real look at him and work out how to defend against him.”
Eddie Jones has declared that England are ready for the twists and turns of the World Cup rollercoaster after opting to face Tonga with all guns blazing.
Jones has selected his strongest available starting XV to take on the big-hitting Islanders in Sunday’s opener at the Sapporo Dome by making only two changes to the side that overwhelmed Ireland last month.
The midfield that engineered a record 57-15 victory at Twickenham is back with George Ford picked at fly-half and playing inside a centre duo of captain Owen Farrell and Manu Tuilagi.
Only lock George Kruis and wing Joe Cokanasiga are missing with Courtney Lawes preferred in the second row and Anthony Watson lining up on the right wing.
With his side for the opening encounter of England’s title quest now chosen, Jones turned his attention towards what awaits in Japan over the coming weeks.
“The players have worked hard. Physically I haven’t seen them any better and off the field they’ve worked really hard to be a tight team,” the Australian head coach said.
“And that’s going to be tested in the World Cup because the World Cup is like a rollercoaster.
“We are at the top of the ride now and we are looking down – everyone’s nervous, everyone’s excited.
“You go down the first slope and you’re not sure if you are going to throw up or hang on.
“You’ve got to adapt to that and the players have equipped themselves to ride the rollercoaster because there’s going to be some turns, there’s going to be some accidents, there’s going to be some fun.
“We want to enjoy all of those things that come along and the team’s equipped to handle it.”
Cokanasiga has been struggling with a knee injury and despite being passed fit by the England management, he is unable to even win a place on the bench.
Instead, Watson is given the chance to continue the strong form he showed during the warm-up Tests to form one third of a rapid back three that also features Jonny May and Elliot Daly completing the back three.
Explaining Cokanasiga’s absence, Jones said: “It’s because of a combination of factors.
“We feel that Anthony Watson this week is the right player to play against Tonga. Joe will definitely have an opportunity further down the track.”
Providing threequarter cover on the bench is Jonathan Joseph and Henry Slade, both of whom have overcome knee injuries to take part in the Sapporo opener.
Slade was unable to play a single minute of the four warm-up Tests but the Exeter playmaker is finally ready for his comeback as England look to launch the tournament with a statement performance.
Mako Vunipola is close to returning from a hamstring injury so his deputy Joe Marler is preferred at loosehead prop and the only surprise pick up-front is Courtney Lawes’ presence at lock with Kruis settling for a place on the bench.
Making a 10th successive appearance at number eight is Billy Vunipola and either side of the big Saracen of Tongan heritage are flankers Tom Curry and Sam Underhill. Both are natural opensides but it is Curry who starts at six.
Tonga were flattened 92-7 by New Zealand in a recent warm-up match but Jones
“That game was played in Hamilton two weeks before the World Cup. This is Sapporo now. We’ve got the greatest respect for Tonga as a World Cup opponent,” Jones said.
“They’re completely different opposition with a different mindset, just like we’ve got a different mindset from the warm-up games.
“If you look at them historically, Tonga has punched above their weight at every World Cup and we are anticipating a ferocious battle on Sunday.
“We want to take them on. We are England and we want to take them on up front so no one will come out of there guessing.”
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