Wainwright to make World Cup debut against Georgia
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 and 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 relating to a potential breach of World Rugby regulation six, specifically betting on rugby union.
Former Wales fly-half Stephen Jones has replaced Howley on the coaching team, and was involved in his first training session on Saturday.
WALES TEAM: L Williams (Saracens); G North (Ospreys), J Davies (Scarlets), H Parkes (Scarlets), J Adams (Cardiff Blues); D Biggar (Northampton), G Davies (Scarlets); W Jones (Scarlets), K Owens (Scarlets), T Francis (Exeter), J Ball (Scarlets), A W Jones (Ospreys, capt), A Wainwright (Dragons), J Tipuric (Ospreys), J Navidi (Cardiff Blues). Replacements: E Dee (Dragons), N Smith (Ospreys), D Lewis (Cardiff Blues), A Shingler (Scarlets), R Moriarty (Dragons), T Williams (Cardiff Blues), R Patchell (Scarlets), L Halfpenny (Scarlets).