GEORGE North will miss out on this Sunday’s Six Nations match v France after he fellow centre Nick Tompkins were surprisingly left out of the match day squad by Warren Gatland.

Monmouthshire-based cap centurion North has impressed so far in the tournament, despite Wales losing all three games, but Gatland says he wants to try new pairing Joe Roberts and Owen Watkins instead against Les Bleus.

George North and Nick Tompkins have been left out of the match day squad for the France match
George North and Nick Tompkins have been left out of the match day squad for the France match (WRU)

Captain Dafydd Jenkins is named at blind-side flanker with Will Rowlands making his first start of the 2024 Six Nations alongside Adam Beard in the second row.

Hooker Ryan Elias starts his second match of this Championship. Among the replacements hooker Elliot Dee is in line to win his 50th cap for Wales from the bench. Gareth Davies is also named in the match day 23 as scrum half cover.

Wales defence coach Mike Forshaw described the move as a ‘rotation’ in selection, saying: “This is an opportunity for us to have a look at Joe Roberts, who was unlucky not to go to the World Cup. We paired him with Owen Watkin who has got 37 caps.”

“We just felt if we were going to have a look, this was the game to do it. We have two home games and we felt if we were going to do it, we were going to do it this weekend.

“Nick and George aren’t injured. They have been spoken to and they firmly believe in what we are doing – they haven’t been dropped.

“Joe is a really promising, young No 13 going forward and Owen has a lot of experience. There is always a risk in every selection but we have to be confident in the messages we are giving and the coaching we are doing.

“Those guys will be there to prove a point I am sure and try and stay in the team the following week. Nick and George were disappointed, but I’d be disappointed if they weren’t disappointed.

“Selection day is always tough because you want to be in the team, you want to play for Wales, you want to drive into the stadium at the weekend.

“But George has been around a long time, and Nick is an established Saracens player with a lot of experience. They’ve been great in training and they’ll fully support the two boys who have come in.”

Wales will be chasing their first win of the championship on Sunday – and a first home Six Nations win since Scotland in 2022. It will be one of the least experienced sides to play under Gatland, but the whole point is to build experience and strength in depth at the highest level.

“I get from the fans, proud Welsh people, that they want to see the team win. So do I as a coach and we’re doing our best on the field,” said Forshaw.

“It’s just finding out what the next World Cup cycle is going to look like in material and personnel. At the end of this tournament we’ll have a good idea who’s going to Australia and then going into the Autumn Series.

“It’s Snakes and Ladders. We don’t want to keep going down them, we want to be going up them. That’s the mentality from everyone.

“We don’t want to sacrifice any games. I expect every game I coach in to go out there and win – I expect the boys to be at their best.

“Sometimes you have to appreciate that some teams are further down the track. But this team is capable of winning two games, I’m pretty sure of that, and they believe that and we’ll drive that.”

Gatland said: “There are a few changes to the team this week as there are some players that deserve an opportunity.

“It’ll be a tough, physical challenge from France on Sunday particularly up front. We know they will start hard and it’s about us staying in the fight, having good line speed defensively and keeping our discipline. We’re looking for an 80 minute performance.

“We’re excited to be back at home for our last two matches and looking forward to getting out in front of a passionate Welsh crowd this weekend.”

Wales senior men’s team to play France at Principality Stadium, Cardiff in the Guinness Six Nations, Sunday 10 March KO 3pm GMT. Live on BBC and S4C.

15. Cameron Winnett (Cardiff Rugby – 3 caps) 14. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby – 57 caps) 13. Joe Roberts (Scarlets – 1 cap) 12. Owen Watkin (Ospreys – 37 caps) 11. Rio Dyer (Dragons  – 17 caps) 10. Sam Costelow (Scarlets – 10 caps) 9. Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 56 caps) 1. Gareth Thomas (Ospreys – 28 caps) 2. Ryan Elias (Scarlets – 41 caps) 3. Keiron Assiratti (Cardiff Rugby – 5 caps) 4. Will Rowlands (Racing 92 – 31 caps) 5. Adam Beard (Ospreys – 54 caps) 6. Dafydd Jenkins (Exeter Chiefs – 15 caps) Captain 7. Tommy Reffell (Leicester Tigers – 16 caps) 8. Aaron Wainwright (Dragons – 46 caps)


16. Elliot Dee (Dragons – 49 caps) 17. Corey Domachowski (Cardiff Rugby – 9 caps) 18. Dillon Lewis (Harlequins – 55 caps) 19. Alex Mann (Cardiff Rugby – 3 caps) 20. Mackenzie Martin (Cardiff Rugby – 1 cap) 21. Gareth Davies (Scarlets – 75 caps) 22. Ioan Lloyd (Scarlets – 5 caps) 23. Mason Grady (Cardiff Rugby – 9 caps)