Wales stick with Sam

Sam Warburton will captain Wales against Australia despite the return of Matthew Rees. [more]

Wales stick with Sam

Sam Warburton will captain Wales against Australia despite the return of Matthew Rees.

Warburton took over the role from Rees prior to the World Cup after the Scarlets skipper missed out through neck surgery.

Rees is finally back in the fold for the Bronze Medal rematch at the Millennium Stadium on December 3 but head coach Warren Gatland has decided to keep faith with the young openside who was controversially sent off in the semi-final defeat to France.

“As we have gone with the majority of our Rugby World Cup squad we have maintained continuity by selecting Sam again as captain for this game,” said Gatland, who has named 20 of his World Cup party in the 28-man squad.

“But it is a significant boost for us to have someone of the experience and stature of Matthew Rees back in the squad which, in turn, means there is considerable competition in the hooker’s position with both Huw Bennett and Lloyd Burns also with us.”

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Gatland was unable to select his foreign-based players due to the fact that the match falls outside the IRB Test window.

That means Lions tourists Mike Phillips, Lee Byrne, James Hook, Andy Powell and Dwayne Peel all miss out, as does Exeter prop Craig Mitchell.

There is no place for veteran Lions fly-half Stephen Jones who is overlooked in favour of Scarlets team-mate Rhys Priestland and 22-year-old Ospreys pivot Dan Biggar.

But while Jones’ absence will lead to rumours that his stellar Wales career could be over, three players could make their international debuts against the Wallabies. Dragons flanker Lewis Evans, Blues wing Alex Cuthbert and Scarlets full-back Liam Williams have all won call ups, while lock Ian Evans is back in the fold for the first time since November 2008.

“The fans have a chance to show the players how proud they are of them after their World Cup performances and it should be quite an occasion at the Millennium Stadium,” added Gatland, who has already stated that Shane Williams will start on the wing in what will be his farewell Wales appearance.

“But we won’t be sitting back and soaking up the atmosphere. Shane will want to go out in style and this squad wants to, and needs to, get back to winning ways.

“We have another chance to beat a Southern Hemisphere team, which is always a yardstick by which we measure ourselves.

“We have the opportunity to avenge the play-off defeat in New Zealand, but we can also send a message to our Six Nations opponents next year, that our World Cup performances should not be seen in isolation and this young squad will continue to be a force to be reckoned with as we build to the next world cup in 2015.”

Wales squad to face Australia on December 3

Forwards: Scott Andrews, Huw Bennett, Ryan Bevington, Lloyd Burns, Luke Charteris, Bradley Davies, Ian Evans, Lewis Evans, Toby Faletau, Gethin Jenkins, Adam Jones, Ryan Jones, Danny Lydiate, Matthew Rees, Justin Tipuric, Sam Warburton (captain)

Backs: Dan Biggar, Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Leigh Halfpenny, Tavis Knoyle, George North, Rhys Priestland, Jamie Roberts, Liam Williams, Lloyd Williams, Scott Williams, Shane Williams

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