Wales manager Warren Gatland announced on Friday that veteran George North and his center partner Nick Tompkins had been skipped for Sunday’s match against France to explore other options in midfield. ground. The absence of both players was a surprise in their squad to face France in Cardiff. Gatland also caused a surprise by moving captain Dafydd Jenkins from the second row to flanker.

“George and I have had honest discussions about his participation in the next World Cup” in Australia in 2027, Gatland said. “He started very young, I think at 18 he was playing for Wales. Part of our discussions have been about how we manage it. How will we care for him in the future? We need to make sure we have depth at number 13.”

Gatland brought in Joe Roberts for a second selection at center in place of North and Owen Watkin in place of Tompkins. “I have to say both boys have responded well after the disappointment of being left out this week, they have been fantastic in the way they have trained and helped the team. This is to their credit. Apart from that disappointment, they have been outstanding with us,” added Gatland. The surprise replacement of Dafydd Jenkins in the third row allows the return to the starting team of second row Will Rowlands, who will be associated with Adam Beard in the second row. “We talked at the start of the tournament about giving Daf a chance,” Gatland added.

“He was very enthusiastic when we talked about it in one of the first matches. When we told him we were going to play him in the second row, he joked that we wouldn’t have the guts to do that. It wasn’t the right time to do it. It’s a good opportunity for a young player to have this opportunity in a different position.” And added: “We are going to strengthen our pack in terms of size. We know France have a big pack and, especially in the first 20 or 30 minutes, they were very direct against Italy and could have gone three tries ahead. We must expect a real physical challenge, especially in the first exchanges of the match,” added the New Zealand technician.