Autumn international: Wales v Tonga preview
Last Updated: 01/12/13 11:26am
Warren Gatland will hope to celebrate taking charge of his 100th Test with a win as his Wales side put their recent growth to the test against Tonga at the Millennium Stadium on Friday evening.
The Six Nations champions have shown in their previous matches during the November Tests that they are still a force to be reckoned with on the international scene after they went on a seven-match losing streak in 2012.
Gatland has rested most of his first-choice players - ahead of next weekend's Test against the Wallabies - but he knows his new-look side will have to front up against the Tongans who enjoy the physical aspect of the game.
"Tonga are a typical south sea island side and will be physical, powerful and won't take a backwards step," Gatland said.
"We pride ourselves on matching other side's physicality and we will have to do that on Friday. It should be a great encounter with both sides looking to move the ball around.
"We have made a number of changes but it's a great opportunity for these guys to show us exactly how they cope with the international game.
"The whole squad has trained well since the start of the campaign and they deserve their chance."
Gatland has been Wales' boss in 59 internationals with his other Tests being in charge of Ireland from 1998 to 2001 and the British and Irish Lions earlier this year.
Amongst the changes to Wales' run-on side is the recall of Ospreys inside centre Ashley Beck, who lines up in midfield alongside Owen Williams of the Cardiff Blues.
The Sea Eagles' European tour got off to a poor start when they suffered a 19-18 loss to Romania in Bucharest on November 9 and they also lost 38-18 to France in Le Harve last weekend.
The clash against Les Bleus was an ill-tempered affair and they finished the match with 14 men after talismanic prop Sona Taumalolo was sent off for punching France lock Yoann Maestri.
But despite those results, Tonga are a team who have delivered some upsets in recent seasons. They claimed a memorable 19-14 win over France in Wellington, at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and their 21-15 victory against Scotland in Aberdeen last year was the final nail in the coffin of Andy Robinson, who resigned as the Scots' coach shortly afterwards.
Wales: Halfpenny, North, Owen Williams, Beck, Amos, Hook, Lloyd Williams, Ryan Jones (capt), Tipuric, Coombs, Evans, Charteris, Rhodri Jones, Owens, James
Replacements: Phillips, Bevington, Lee, Lydiate, Warburton, Rhodri Williams, Priestland, Jordan Williams.
Tonga: Lilo, Vainikolo, Piutau, Piukala, Helu, Fosita, Moa, Ma'afu, Latu Langilangi (capt), Kalamafoni, Tu'ineau, Lokotui, Puafisi, Taione, Aholelei
Replacements: Taufalele, Vea, Mailau, Hale T Pole, Fonua, Fisilau, 'Apikotoa, Halaifonua