Wales set to take a chance on Kieran Hardy at scrum-half against England with Scarlets No 9 in line to start Six Nations clash despite playing just three times for Wayne Pivac’s side
- Kieran Hardy has been training as the starting scrum-half for Wales this week
- Wayne Pivac will likely favour Hardy over experienced Gareth Davies vs England
- Hardy, the 25-year-old Scarlets No 9, has only played three times for Wales
Wales look ready to roll the dice at scrum-half against England with Kieran Hardy set to start, with Jonathan Davies and George North ready to make a powerful centre pairing.
Sportsmail understands that Hardy, the 25-year-old Scarlets No 9 who has played just three times for Wales, has been training as the starting scrum-half this week.
With Wayne Pivac’s preferred choice at half-back, Tomos Williams, out injured with a hamstring problem it looks likely he will favour Hardy over the experienced Gareth Davies for the England game.
Wales look ready to roll the dice at scrum-half against England with Kieran Hardy set to start
It would continue his merry-go-round selection at scrum-half since he took charge in late 2019.
Five different No 9 have started in his 12 Tests – Williams, Davies, Hardy, Lloyd Williams and Rhys Webb – with this set to be Hardy’s third of his career.
His inclusion is set to herald a raft of backline changes for the Welsh. Only Dan Biggar and Louis Rees-Zammit are expected to keep their starting shirt numbers from the Scotland victory last time out.
Wayne Pivac’s preferred choice at half-back, Tomos Williams, is out with a hamstring issue
WALES PROBABLE LINE-UP
L Williams; Rees-Zammit, North, J Davies, Adams; Biggar, Hardy; W Jones, Owens, Francis, Beard, AW Jones (c), Navidi, Tipuric, Faletau.
It is understood that Wales have been training with Jonathan Davies and George North in the centres, with the returning Davies expected to be named at 12 when the team is revealed on Thursday and North lined up for his 100th Welsh cap outside.
It would be a rare appearance at 12 for Davies who played there with North against Italy in the Autumn Nations Cup, after Johnny Williams was a late withdrawal for that game last December.
With Leigh Halfpenny set to drop to the bench, if he comes through final head-injury checks, Liam Williams is primed to start at full-back with Josh Adams, who broke Covid rules and was banned for the first two Six Nations matches, ready to take his place back on the wing.
Up front it is believed the Welsh pack will remain intact in the front-five – with Wyn Jones, Ken Owens and Tomas Francis continuing at front-row, Adam Beard joining Alun Wyn Jones, the captain playing his 23rd consecutive match against England.
In the back row Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau will continue their partnership, with a late call made on whether Josh Navidi, James Botham or Aaron Wainwright will join them at blindside flanker.
Wales like Navidi’s combative edge, especially against the physical English, but 23-year-old Botham – grandson of Lord Botham, the famous cricketer – performed well against Eddie Jones’ men in the Autumn Nations Cup defeat and Navidi is returning from a neck issue.
Jonathan Davies and George North (above) are ready to make a powerful centre pairing