Pivac wants Wales to make record-breaking experience count against France

Wales will field the most capped team in Six Nations history on Saturday – and head coach Wayne Pivac hopes that experience can be a factor against France.

The Wales starting line-up contains a record 859 caps, with more than half the side having played at least 50 Tests and skipper Alun Wyn Jones edging close to 140 for his country.

It breaks the previous best mark of 822 set by Italy against Scotland in 2012.

“Hopefully it will mean a lot this weekend,” said Pivac, who has made two changes from the side beaten by Ireland 12 days ago, calling up scrum-half Gareth Davies and flanker Ross Moriarty.

“If we can start well, which is something we are trying to achieve in both halves – we’ve been a bit slow out of the blocks – then that experience will hopefully come through for us and will test some of the inexperienced players in their side.”

Davies replaces Tomos Williams while Moriarty takes over from Aaron Wainwright, packing down in the back row alongside Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau.

Wing Josh Adams and fly-half Dan Biggar, who went off during the Ireland game, are fit to face Les Bleus and both start.

Prolific try-scorer Adams took a knock to his hip, while Biggar failed a head injury assessment.

Dan Biggar failed a HIA in Dublin
Dan Biggar failed a HIA in Dublin (David Davies/PA)

Northampton star Biggar, who suffered two head injuries during the World Cup earlier this season, has fully trained since last week and completed all return-to-play protocols.

All testing was undertaken with the addition of a globally renowned concussion expert reviewing Biggar’s return, which was proactively sought by the Welsh Rugby Union’s medical team.

Williams and Wainwright are both among the replacements, where there is also a role for uncapped Wasps lock Will Rowlands.

Pivac added: “He (Biggar) has gone through the regular process and passed those with flying colours.

“We’ve also gone to a world-leading expert in concussion, who he’s seen previously at the World Cup. Every precaution has been taken.

O Gaerdydd daw'r canu dydd Sadwrn. #HWFNpic.twitter.com/oOlV0St82o

— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) February 20, 2020

“He has come through it and been cleared to play. He’s good to go and has trained very well this week.”

Victory for Wales would keep them in the title mix – and recent history is on their side.

France have not won a Six Nations game in Cardiff since they triumphed there 10 years ago, losing on four successive occasions.

Wales have also won eight of the countries’ last nine meetings, including a World Cup quarter-final in Japan four months ago.

France, though, are unbeaten from their first two games in this season’s Six Nations and now have former Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards in their backroom team.

Shaun Edwards is now on the French coaching staff
Shaun Edwards is now on the French coaching staff (Ben Birchall/PA)

“They’ve started very well in this competition with a great win over England, and backed it up with a five-pointer against Italy. They come full of confidence,” Pivac said.

“It’s been about us wanting to get back out there and right some of the wrongs from the Ireland game. We know we’ve got a better performance in us.

“I think this Saturday is a big test for both teams. It’s a very big test.

“For us, it’s to keep us alive in the championship, and for France, it’s their first game away.

“It will be interesting to see how both teams approach the game, but from our point of view it’s to keep ourselves alive, and we are looking for a very big performance.

“If we can get the win and England do a job at home (against Ireland on Sunday), then what an exciting championship we’ve got with two games remaining.”

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