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Page last updated at 12:00 GMT, Thursday, 4 November 2010

Wales pick Warburton, Harries & Lydiate against Aussies

Wales v Australia
Venue: Millennium Stadium Date: Saturday, 6 November Kick-off: 1430 GMT Coverage: Exclusively live on BBC TWO & online, full commentary on BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru and live text commentary and live scores on BBC Sport website

Sam Warburton
Warburton is to win his eighth Wales cap against Australia

Open-side Sam Warburton, 23, is chosen ahead of veteran flanker Martyn Williams for Wales' opening autumn Test with Australia in Cardiff on Saturday.

Dragons wing Will Harries replaces the injured Leigh Halfpenny to secure his first start after winning his first cap on the summer tour to New Zealand.

Warburton and Jonathan Thomas are joined in an injury-hit Wales back-row by Dragons flanker Dan Lydiate.

James Hook has been moved to full-back from centre in Lee Byrne's absence.

With Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies among the absentees, Andrew Bishop and Tom Shanklin form the midfield partnership.

Warren Gatland's starting XV at the Millennium Stadium will feature only three players over the age of 30 - wing Shane Williams, centre Shanklin and fly-half Stephen Jones.

Scarlets hooker Matthew Rees will lead his country for the first time because Ryan Jones, the Ospreys number eight, has a calf injury which has forced the Wales coach to reshuffle his back row.

Warburton will make his fourth Wales start in the number seven jersey, selected ahead of 95-times capped British and Irish Lion Williams.

There's a possibility there could be some changes during the match and he [James Hook] may move up to centre

Wales coach Warren Gatland

The 35-year-old, who recently returned from a two-week suspension, was rested for the summer tour to New Zealand while Warburton was injured in the game against South Africa before that trip, so Gavin Thomas featured against the All Blacks.

Should he come off the replacements bench, however, Williams, whom Gatland persuaded to do a U-turn on his international retirement, would win his 100th international cap with Lions Tests taken into consideration.

Gatland "In terms of the openside stuff we need to still find out about Sam Warburton. We were very pleased with his last game against South Africa.

"We were disappointed he was injured and didn't want to go on the summer tour so he's getting another opportunity.

James Hook in Wales training ahead of the Australia Test
James Hook in Wales training ahead of the Australia Test

"In terms of the wing, again we consider Will a winger, not a full-back. He's been playing at full-back for the Dragons and it's a great chance for him.

"From the injuries, we're just a little bit limited in the midfield with players that are playing there regularly for their regions.

"We realise that Tom hasn't had a lot of rugby for the Blues, but he's very experienced with 50-plus caps and James has done a great job for us at full-back and you've just got to find a position for James as well.

"There's a possibility there could be some changes during the match and he may move up to centre, which would give Chris Czekaj an opportunity perhaps at full-back so we'll just see how things go during the game."

Lydiate, with one start in his fledgling Wales career, has been given the nod at blind-side flanker with versatile Ospreys man Thomas at number eight.

Thomas has played in the second row and as flanker but his performances at number eight for the Ospreys this season has earned him a Wales start in that position.

Skipper Rees, meanwhile, is reunited with fellow Lions Gethin Jenkins and Adam Jones in the front row with locks Bradley Davies and Alun Wyn Jones completing a a powerful front five.

"The front five virtually picks itself, when they're all fit and playing well," said Gatland.

Elsom ready for Wales challenge

"There's two young boys in the second row there who have been going really well, Bradley in particular is in great shape and we will be looking to get the ball in his hands as much as possible. He is a real player for the future.

"At scrum-half Richie Rees has been putting pressure on Mike Phillips with some dynamic performances for the Blues so it's a big game for Mike, we are looking for him to be physical and really lead the way.

"We are still hurting as a squad from the way the Wallabies beat us last year.

"They were impressive as a forward pack and they repeatedly won turnover ball which gave them the game.

"We have spoken about this week about the responsibility we have to those fans now to perform."

Wales team to face Australia in Cardiff on Saturday, November 6:
James Hook; Will Harries, Tom Shanklin, Andrew Bishop, Shane Williams, Stephen Jones, Mike Phillips; Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees (c), Adam Jones, Bradley Davies, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton, Jonathan Thomas.
Replacements: Huw Bennett, Paul James, Deiniol Jones, Martyn Williams, Richie Rees, Dan Biggar, Chris Czekaj.

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see also
Australia unchanged against Wales
04 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
Jones ready for in-form Wallabies
04 Nov 10 |  Welsh
Fly-half desire 'fuels' Hook move
03 Nov 10 |  Ospreys
Gatland warning on Pocock threat
03 Nov 10 |  Welsh
Wales vow to play Australia style
02 Nov 10 |  Welsh
Wales 'should lower expectations'
01 Nov 10 |  Welsh
'Awesome' Rees hailed by Jenkins
27 Oct 10 |  Welsh
Hook happy to fill Wales 15 shirt
26 Oct 10 |  Welsh
Gatland wants Williams for 2011
29 Jan 09 |  Welsh

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