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Phillips dropped for Argentina Test

6th November 2012

• Phillips dropped in favour of the scrum-half Tavis Knoyle
• Scarlets flanker Josh Turnbull to wear No6 shirt

Wales have dropped the scrum-half Mike Phillips for Saturday’s Test against Argentina in Cardiff, while the Exeter-born prop Aaron Jarvis wins his first cap.

Jarvis will make his Wales debut in the autumn Test series opener at the Millennium Stadium. The Wales interim head coach, Rob Howley, has also sprung a major surprise at scrum-half by selecting Tavis Knoyle ahead of the British and Irish Lions Test No9 Phillips.

The Scarlets flanker Josh Turnbull wears the No6 shirt with Dan Lydiate and Ryan Jones both sidelined through injury, with Gethin Jenkins packing down in the front-row for his 91st cap alongside the former Wales skipper Matthew Rees and Jarvis, who replaces an injured Adam Jones.

Injury also sidelines centre Jonathan Davies (groin), so his Scarlets colleague Scott Williams deputises and partners Jamie Roberts in midfield.

There are seven changes from Wales’ last game – a 20-19 defeat to Australia in Sydney last June – with Williams, Roberts, Knoyle, Jarvis, lock Ian Evans, Turnbull and number eight Toby Faletau all starting.

Bayonne star Phillips has to be content with a place on the bench alongside his fellow France-based back James Hook, but Ospreys centre Ashley Beck was not considered for the match-day 23 due to a hip problem.

Fly-half Rhys Priestland, meanwhile, has seen off the challenges of Hook and Ospreys’ in-form Dan Biggar to retain the playmaker role, with Howley retaining a potent back-three of Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert and George North.

Exeter-born Jarvis, who has a Welsh grandmother, has been in strong form for the Ospreys this season and he impressed the Wales coaching staff during last week’s training camp in Poland.

“One or two injuries have forced our hands in certain areas in terms of selection,” Howley said. “But the fact that we are still able to field a side packed with Grand Slam experience shows that we have been able to develop some depth in recent years.

“There are obvious opportunities for the likes of Aaron, Tavis and Josh to pull on the jersey against Argentina and try to make it their own. We all know how important a good start against the Pumas will be to our November series. They arrive battle-hardened after a tough Rugby Championship campaign.

“They will be looking to silence the Millennium Stadium crowd from the outset and we know we can’t afford to let that happen, with a successful campaign this autumn vital to our ambitions for the future.”

Wales team to play Argentina:

L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues); A Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), S Williams (Scarlets), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), G North (Scarlets); R Priestland (Scarlets), T Knoyle (Scarlets); G Jenkins (Toulon), M Rees (Scarlets), A Jarvis (Ospreys), A-W Jones (Ospreys), I Evans (Ospreys), J Turnbull (Scarlets), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements: R Hibbard (Ospreys), R Bevington (Ospreys), P James (Bath), R McCusker (Scarlets), J Tipuric (Ospreys), M Phillips (Bayonne), J Hook (Perpignan), L Williams (Scarlets).


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