North gets the nod for Wales

Prop Jones drafted into the pack in place of fellow Osprey Mitchell

Last Updated: 17/03/11 1:33pm

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North: starts on left wing

North: starts on left wing

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Winger George North will make his RBS Six Nations debut for Wales against France after being picked to replace the injured Shane Williams.

"We know now that when everyone is fit we will have real depth in that front row. It goes without saying that we will miss Shane (Williams), any side would, but George presents an entirely different prospect"
George North Quotes of the week

The teenager is one of two enforced changes made by coach Warren Gatland for their final fixture of this year's tournament in Paris.

As well as Williams, who picked up a knee problem in the win over Ireland, prop Craig Mitchell is also sidelined with a dislocated shoulder.

The Ospreys forward is replaced in the front row by his club colleague Adam Jones, who has played just 20 minutes of rugby since suffering an elbow injury in mid-January.

Outside chance

Gatland has otherwise retained the side that saw off the Irish 19-13 in Cardiff, with North being preferred to Morgan Stoddart on the left wing.

Wales still have an outside chance of winning the Six Nations title going into the final round of matches, though they would firstly need England to suffer a heavy defeat against Ireland in Dublin and then beat France by 20-plus points.

"We are going into the final round of the Championship in second place and still with a shot at the title," said Gatland.

"That's pleasing, but it is not good enough yet, we need to finish the job and win in France.

"That is the only element of this weekend we can control and it is vitally important that we maintain our focus on what will be one of the toughest challenges of this campaign."

Skills coach Neil Jenkins welcomed the timely return of Jones and North, who scored two tries on his Test debut against South Africa last November before being ruled out for three months with a shoulder problem.

Real depth

Jenkins said: "Adam (Jones) is quite a player to have coming back into your side, he is a British Lion and one of the best players in his position in the world so we are very happy that he has timed his return from injury to perfection.

"Craig (Mitchell) has done a great job for us so far this campaign, but it is reassuring to know Adam is there to slot straight back in.

"We know now that when everyone is fit we will have real depth in that front row. It goes without saying that we will miss Shane (Williams), any side would, but George presents an entirely different prospect.

"He will want to get involved in the game and he has got all the attributes to do himself and Wales justice on Saturday.

"He will be looking forward to the challenge, we are putting no pressure on him, he will just be told to go out there and enjoy his rugby."

Wales team to play France in Paris on Saturday:
L Byrne (Ospreys); L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), J Davies (Scarlets), G North (Scarlets); J Hook (Ospreys), M Phillips (Ospreys); P James (Ospreys), M Rees (Scarlets, capt), A Jones (Ospreys), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), A-W Jones (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues), R Jones (Ospreys).
Replacements: R Hibbard (Ospreys), J Yapp (Cardiff Blues), J Thomas (Ospreys), R McCusker (Scarlets), D Peel (Sale Sharks), S Jones (Scarlets), M Stoddart (Scarlets).

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