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Lions legend Jones to lead Wales against England in Cardiff

Alun Wyn Jones has appeared in the last nine Tests for the Lions across three Tours (Inpho)

British & Irish Lions legend Alun Wyn Jones returns to captain Wales this weekend in their marquee Six Nations match-up with England.

Jones was one of ten Welshmen rotated out of the starting XV a fortnight ago for their clash with Italy but returns to the second row and the captaincy in Cardiff.

Other returning Lions include George North in the backline, where he joins fellow 2017 tourists Liam Williams and Jonathan Davies.

Meanwhile up front, Ken Owens comes back in at hooker with Justin Tipuric and Ross Moriarty both restored to the back row.

In total the Welsh starting XV includes seven Lions with another in the form of Dan Biggar set to add impact from the bench.

And head coach Warren Gatland, who masterminded the Lions series win over Australia in 2013 and subsequent draw with the All Blacks in 2017, likes the blend of his matchday 23.

“We are really happy with the experience we have got in the side,” he said.

“We have been on the road for the first two weeks, we are looking forward to being back at home and to build on those first two wins and to build on our performance.

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“We’ve had a great two-week lead-up to this game, we’ve looked really sharp and the squad are incredibly motivated to kick on.

“We know how important this game is for the rest of the Championship. It’s a massive challenge playing against an England team that is playing really well and with a lot of confidence and we’ve got to make it difficult for them on Saturday.

“We are looking forward to it and we know the Welsh fans are too and it’s going to be a huge weekend in the Six Nations.”

Jones is joined by Cory Hill in the second row while Rob Evans gets the nod at loosehead with Owens and England-born Tomas Francis joining in the front row.

The back row consists of Josh Navidi and Tipuric either side of No.8 Moriarty, while Gareth Davies is the starting No.9 to partner Gareth Anscombe.

Hadleigh Parkes is restored in midfield inside Davies while North re-joins Williams and Josh Adams in the back three.

Elliot Dee, Nicky Smith and Dillon Lewis provide Wales’ front-row replacements with Adam Beard and Aaron Wainwright completing the forward contingent. Aled Davies, Biggar and Owen Watkin provide the backline cover.

WALES TEAM TO PLAY ENGLAND:

15. Liam Williams (53 Caps)
14. George North (80 Caps)
13. Jonathan Davies (70 Caps)
12. Hadleigh Parkes (12 Caps)
11. Josh Adams (8 Caps)
10. Gareth Anscombe (23 Caps)
9. Gareth Davies (38 Caps)

1. Rob Evans (32 Caps)
2. Ken Owens (61 Caps)
3. Tomas Francis (37 Caps)
4. Cory Hill (23 Caps)
5. Alun Wyn Jones (122 Caps) (CAPT)
6. Josh Navidi (13 Caps)
7. Justin Tipuric (61 Caps)
8. Ross Moriarty (28 Caps)

REPLACEMENTS:
16. Elliot Dee (15 Caps)
17. Nicky Smith (25 Caps)
18. Dillon Lewis (9 Caps)
19. Adam Beard (10 Caps)
20. Aaron Wainwright (5 Caps)
21. Aled Davies (13 Caps)
22. Dan Biggar (67 Caps)
23. Owen Watkin (10 Caps)

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