05272017

Wales unchanged for Six Nations trip to France

Ken Owens

Ken Owens (centre) made his Wales debut against Namibia in the 2011 World Cup

Wales have named an unchanged side for the third consecutive game when they play France in the Six Nations in Paris on Saturday.

Hooker Ken Owens will win his 50th cap as coach Rob Howley sticks with the 23-man squad that beat Ireland 22-9 in Cardiff last Friday.

Howley has resisted calls to include inexperienced players, saying the team deserves a vote of confidence.

“I was delighted for the players at Friday’s performance,” he said.

“They deserve the opportunity to build on that in our final Six Nations encounter.”

Scarlets hooker Owens, 30, has won 31 of his 49 Test caps off the bench, but has started in all four of this season’s Six Nations matches and is being tipped as a potential British and Irish tourist for the summer tour of New Zealand.

He lines up alongside Tomas Francis and Rob Evans, while the back row of Sam Warburton, Justin Tipuric and Ross Moriarty is retained with Bath number eight Taulupe Faletau on the bench.

Faletau’s Bath team-mate Luke Charteris is also among the replacements, with Jake Ball retaining his second-row place alongside captain Alun Wyn Jones in the starting line-up.

Wales could finish as high as second in the championship if they beat France and other results go their way.

“The experience we showed and the intensity we brought to the match was hugely important and that will be just as important as we face a good France team,” said Howley.

“For us there are areas of the game we want to work on from Ireland and we have an opportunity to do that on Saturday and finish the campaign with another quality performance.

“The players who took to the field at Principality Stadium deserve the opportunity to start and we were pleased with the impact from the bench so will be looking for the same this weekend.”

Wales team v France

Halfpenny, North, Davies, S William, L Williams; Biggar, Webb; Evans, Owens, Francis, Ball, AW Jones (capt), Warburton, Tipuric, Moriarty.

Replacements: Baldwin, Smith, Lee, Charteris, Faletau, G Davies, S Davies, Roberts.

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