McNicholl picked as Tipuric leads Wales against Barbarians

Scarlets back Johnny McNicholl recently qualified for Wales on residency grounds
Wales v Barbarians
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Sat, 30 November Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio Wales and Radio Cymru, the BBC Sport website and app.

Flanker Justin Tipuric will captain Wales against the Barbarians in Cardiff on Saturday in new coach Wayne Pivac’s first game in charge.

Scarlets’ New Zealand-born wing Johnny McNicholl will make his Wales debut in the non-capped match after qualifying on residency grounds.

Cardiff Blues’ Jarrod Evans is at fly-half after missing out on World Cup selection.

Dragons’ Sam Davies provides cover at 10 on the bench.

There are nine changes from the side that started the bronze-medal match against New Zealand at the World Cup.

Former Wales boss Warren Gatland coaches the Baa-Baas, returning to the Principality Stadium after ending 12 years in charge of the national side in that defeat to the All Blacks.

Former Ireland and Ulster captain Rory Best skippers the Baa-Baas in his last game before the hooker steps down from professional rugby.

South Africa’s Schalk Brits will also mark the end of his international career, after being coaxed out of retirement for the Springboks side that won the 2019 World Cup.

Several of Pivac’s selections have been enforced by injury, while Blues centre Willis Halaholo – who was tipped to make his Wales debut alongside McNicholl – is also out of contention with a long-term knee problem.

Despite the absentees, all eight of the pack featured in the World Cup in Japan, with Tipuric named in a back-row alongside Aaron Shingler and Aaron Wainwright.

Jake Ball and Adam Beard make up the second row, with Wyn Jones, Ken Owens and Dillon Lewis named in the front row.

Blues half-backs Tomos Williams and Evans are named together, with Hadleigh Parkes and Owen Watkin partnered in midfield.

Uncapped McNicholl lines up in a back three alongside Josh Adams and Leigh Halfpenny.

“This week has been hugely exciting and hugely important for us as a group,” said former Scarlets coach Pivac.

“It has been an opportunity for us as a new squad and management to get together and to set the scene for what the future holds.

“There has been quite a lot of learning for the squad this week, looking at what we are trying to do and us providing some clarity, but we have also stressed the enjoyment factor of being together for the first time and the excitement of not only this weekend but the future.”

Elliot Dee, Rob Evans and Leon Brown provide Wales’ front-row cover on the bench, with Seb Davies and Ollie Griffiths completing the forward contingent. Gareth Davies, Sam Davies and Owen Lane provide the backline cover.

The game will be proceeded by Wales Women taking on their Barbarians counter-parts in a double-header at the Principality Stadium.

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets); Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets), Owen Watkin (Ospreys), Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets), Josh Adams (Cardiff Blues); Jarrod Evans (Cardiff Blues), Tomas Williams (Cardiff Blues); Wyn Jones (Scarlets), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Blues), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Adam Beard (Ospreys), Aaron Shingler (Scarlets), Justin Tipuric (capt, Ospreys), Aaron Wainwright (Dragons).

Replacements: Elliot Dee (Dragons), Rob Evans (Scarlets), Leon Brown (Dragons), Seb Davies (Cardiff Blues), Ollie Griffiths (Dragons), Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Sam Davies (Dragons), Owen Lane (Cardiff Blues).

Barbarians: Shaun Stevenson (Waikoto Chiefs & Maori All Blacks); Dillyn Leyds (Stormers & South Africa), Mathieu Bastareaud (Lyon & France), Andre Esterhuizen (Natal Sharks & South Africa), Cornal Hendricks (Blue Bulls & South Africa); Curwin Bosch (Natal Sharks & South Africa), Bryn Hall (Crusaders & Maori All Blacks); Campese Maafu (Leicester Tigers & Fiji), Rory Best (capt, Ulster & Ireland), Wiehahn Herbst (Blue Bulls), Luke Jones (Melbourne Rebels & Australia), Tyler Ardron (Waikoto Chiefs & Canada), Pete Samu (ACT Brumbies & Australia), Marco van Staden (Blue Bulls & South Africa), Josh Strauss (Stade Francais & Scotland).

Replacements: Schalk Brits (Blue Bulls & South Africa), Craig Millar (Sunwolves), Hencus van Wyk (Sunwolves), George Biagi (Zebre & Italy), Angus Cottrell (Melbourne Rebels), Jano Vermaak (Stormers & South Africa), Billy Meakes (Melbourne Rebels), Matt Duffie (Auckland Blues & New Zealand).

Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU).

Asssistants: Dan Jones, Gwyn Morris (both WRU).

TMO: Ian Davies (WRU).

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