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Six Nations 2024: Tompkins and North dropped as Wales change centre pairing for France clash

Warren Gatland has made four changes to his Wales lineup for their penultimate Six Nations clash with France on Sunday, with centres Nick Tompkins and George North both dropped.

Joe Roberts and Owen Watkin will replace the experienced duo, who have a combined 155 caps, in a shock move following Wales’ comprehensive 31-7 defeat to Ireland last time out.

It is understood Tompkins and North were fit and available for selection, but both have been left out of the matchday squad completely as Gatland gives others a chance to impress.

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Elsewhere, captain Dafydd Jenkins moves from the second row to start at blind-side flanker for the first time, while Will Rowlands and Ryan Elias have been promoted to start, with the former partnering Adam Beard in the second row while Elias replaces hooker Elliot Dee.

Wales are still awaiting their first win of this year’s tournament but have two home games left to get on the board, with Italy following France in visiting the Principality Stadium next week.

Explaining the alterations to his XV, 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 we’re looking forward to getting out in front of a passionate Welsh crowd this weekend.”

Assistant coach Mike Forshaw offered further insight on the changes at centre, saying: “Nick and George have been spoken to.

“They were disappointed, which I get, but they firmly believe in what we are doing. There is always a risk in every selection but we need to look at Joe.

“He’s a really promising young 13 and was unlucky not to go to the World Cup, and Owen Watkin has a lot of experience. We just felt if we were going to have a look, this was the game to do it.”

Wales team to face France: Cameron Winnett, Josh Adams, Joe Roberts, Owen Watkin, Rio Dyer, Sam Costelow, Tomos Williams; Gareth Thomas, Ryan Elias, Keiron Assiratti, Will Rowlands, Adam Beard, Dafydd Jenkins (c), Tommy Reffell, Aaron Wainwright.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Corey Domachowski, Dillon Lewis, Alex Mann, Mackenzie Martin, Gareth Davies, Ioan Lloyd, Mason Grady.

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.
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