Wales team for France clash: Charteris in for Coombs, Phillips dropped to bench

11:08am Wednesday 19th February 2014

By Chris Kirwan

FORMER Rodney Parade favourite Luke Charteris returns for Wales at the expense of Newport Gwent Dragons captain Andrew Coombs for Friday’s Six Nations clash with France.

The Perpignan lock, who left the Dragons for the south of France in 2012, is one of three changes to the side that was hammered by Ireland in Dublin.

Rhys Webb comes in for Mike Phillips at scrum-half and wing Liam Williams is given the nod to replace injured centre Scott Williams with George North shifting to midfield.

Coombs, who started at the Aviva Stadium and came off the bench in the tournament opener against Italy, misses out on the matchday squad after Scarlets lock Jake Ball was named among the replacements.

"Friday is a massive game for us” said head coach Warren Gatland. "As a squad we have a huge amount of experience in this tournament and we will be calling on that this weekend.

''We see the game as a huge opportunity for us to put things right.

"Luke (Charteris) has been working really hard over the past couple of weeks and it's a big boost for us that he is back.

"I thought Rhys (Webb) played excellently for the Ospreys at the weekend and he comes in and gives us a different dimension and it's a great opportunity for him.

"George (North) moves into the midfield and he brings great footwork to the role and we were impressed when he went there against Australia in the autumn. His partnership with Jamie will be important as we look to stop the directness of France and Mathieu Bastareaud.”

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), George North (Northampton Saints), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro), Liam Williams (Scarlets), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Perpignan), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro), Sam Warburton (captain – Cardiff Blues), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements: Ken Owens (Scarlets), Paul James (Bath Rugby), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Mike Phillips (Racing Metro), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), James Hook (Perpignan).

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