Wales flyhalf Biggar returns, Rees-Zammit at fullback v title-chasing France

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FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union – Six Nations Championship – Wales v England – Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, Britain – February 25, 2023 Wales’ Dan Biggar during the warm up before the match Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers

CARDIFF (Reuters) – Wales flyhalf Dan Biggar has been recalled to the team and Louis Rees-Zammit will make a rare start at fullback as coach Warren Gatland brings back two of his big guns for the daunting final Six Nations trip to title-chasing France on Saturday.

France are still in the hunt for the championship but must beat Wales, potentially with a bonus point. They are four points behind leaders Ireland. Wales have won one of their four games in the championship in a diappointing campaign to date.

Biggar was dropped from the loss to England and missed out on last weekend’s win in Italy with a bad back, but takes over from Owen Williams in the number 10 jersey.

Rees-Zammit is preferred to Leigh Halfpenny at fullback for his third start in that position as Gatland assesses his options ahead of the World Cup later this year. Liam Williams misses out with injury having been excellent in the 29-17 victory in Rome.

“Last weekend was really important for us getting a win in the Six Nations and building a bit of confidence. It was a step in the right direction but there’s still lots for us to work on,” Gatland said in a media release from Welsh Rugby.

“We’ve worked hard on a few things in terms of tidying some of the defensive lapses that we’ve made and getting those things right. We’re still working hard on our attack.”

Number eight Taulupe Faletau will earn his 100th cap at the back of the scrum and packs down with flankers Justin Tipuric and Aaron Wainwright.

Alun Wyn Jones is back in the second row to partner Adam Beard, while captain Ken Owens has props Wyn Jones and Tomas Francis either side of him.

Scrumhalf Rhys Webb, who was outstanding in the win over Italy, keeps his place in the starting XV alongside Biggar, while George North returns to the midfield to partner Nick Tompkins.

Wings Josh Adams and Rio Dyer make up the back three with Rees-Zammit.

“We’ve got to go out there and start well, make sure we’re in that arm wrestle with them and give ourselves that opportunity,” Gatland said.

“They’re (France) a team that kick the ball a lot, so we’ve also got to make sure that our backfield is right and we’ve got to be good in the air.”

Wales team:

15 Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby – 24 caps)

14 Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby – 48 caps)

13 George North (Ospreys – 112 caps)

12 Nick Tompkins (Saracens – 26 caps)

11 Rio Dyer (Dragons – 6 caps)

10 Dan Biggar (Toulon – 106 caps)

9 Rhys Webb (Ospreys – 39 caps);

1 Wyn Jones (Scarlets – 47 caps)

2 Ken Owens (Scarlets – 90 caps) CAPT

3 Tomas Francis (Ospreys – 70 caps)

4 Adam Beard (Ospreys – 45 caps)

5 Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys – 157 caps)

6 Aaron Wainwright (Dragons – 36 caps)

7 Justin Tipuric (Ospreys – 92 caps)

8 Taulupe Faletau (Cardiff Rugby – 99 caps)

Replacements

16 Bradley Roberts (Dragons – 4 caps)

17 Gareth Thomas (Ospreys – 20 caps)

18 Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Rugby – 49 caps)

19 Dafydd Jenkins (Exeter Chiefs – 5 caps)

20 Tommy Reffell (Leicester Tigers – 8 caps)

21 Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 44 caps)

22 Owen Williams (Ospreys – 6 caps)

23 Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets – 98 caps)

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