WALES HAVE named a side to face the fearsome Springboks this Saturday, handing Eli Walker his first cap on the wing.
The Osprey fills a gap left by the injured Alex Cuthbert and with Liam Williams and James Hook on the bench there is potential for replacement, but it seems unlikely as both men would rather play elsewhere – Hook is the standby stand-off. This could be seen as a real vote of confidence for the in-form Ospreys flyer.
Elsewhere, Rhys Priestland gets the nod over Dan Biggar who does not feature in the squad at all. Scott Williams partners his pal Jonathan Davies in the centres and Bradley Davies partners Alun Wyn Jones in the second-row. The back-row takes on an incredibly familiar look.
Gatland said of his selections: “We always say we like to test ourselves against the best and Saturday is going to be just that with a huge game against South Africa first up.
“The Springboks arrive in the UK off the back of their impressive Rugby Championship campaign and we know that we need to start well on Saturday. We go into the series as Six Nations Champions but we are looking forward to testing ourselves against the southern hemisphere sides and showing what we are can do.”
Wales XV versus South Africa: Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Jonathan Davies, Scott Williams, Eli Walker, Rhys Priestland, Mike Phillips, Gethin Jenkins, Richard Hibbard, Adam Jones, Bradley Davies, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton (C), Toby Faletau.
Subs: Ken Owens, Paul James, Scott Andrews, Luke Charteris, Justin Tipuric, Lloyd Williams, James Hook, Liam Williams.