George North set to take centre stage in Wayne Pivac’s new-look Wales team against Italy by wearing No 13 jersey with youngster Louis Rees-Zammit likely to make debut from the bench
- George North is set to feature at outside centre in Wales’ new-look side
- Wayne Pivac is also likely to hand Louis Rees-Zammit a place on the bench
- Scrum-half Rhys Webb is set for a recall against Italy in Cardiff on Saturday
Pivac will reveal his line-up on Thursday and was on Wednesday night deciding whether to hand young star Louis Rees-Zammit a place on the bench for the Six Nations opener, with the call depending on whether fellow Gloucester back Owen Williams or Cardiff Blues fly-half Jarrod Evans makes the substitutes.
But barring a last minute change of heart, he has decided to run North, 27, at outside centre alongside Hadleigh Parkes.
George North looks likely to line up at outside centre in Wayne Pivac’s new-look Wales team
Pivac last week said North was the ‘front-runner’ for the No 13 shirt as Jonathan Davies and Owen Watkin are injured.
Uncapped Johnny McNicholl, 29, is set make his full debut against the Azzurri. The New Zealand-born Scarlets player started and scored in the non-cap Barbarians game in November.
Sources have indicated Tomos Williams – the livewire No 9 – will start at scrum-half as Gareth Davies has a slight knock, which means the previously exiled Webb makes the bench.
Wales coach Pivac revealed North was the ‘front-runner’ for the No 13 shirt against Italy
The 31-year-old has not played for Wales since December 2017 having been barred from selection when at French club Toulon, but the WRU have allowed him to return as he is coming back to the Ospreys in the summer.
Completing the back-line will be in-form Northampton fly-half Dan Biggar for the Italy game in Cardiff on Saturday.
In the forwards Sale tight-head WillGriff John, 27, is set for a debut, and Taulupe Faletau, 29, is due to return for the first time since March 2018 in Welsh red.