Fly-half Dan Biggar and centre George North have been left out of the Wales team for Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations clash against England in Cardiff.

The cap centurions are replaced by Ospreys’ Owen Williams and uncapped 20-year-old Cardiff centre Mason Grady, respectively.

Williams makes a first start in the Wales number 10 shirt after previous appearances at centre, with Grady partnered in midfield by Joe Hawkins.

Biggar skippered Wales during last season’s Six Nations and the summer tour of South Africa, but he delivered a below-par performance during Wales’ record 35-7 defeat against Scotland 12 days ago.

Elsewhere, head coach Warren Gatland has handed full-back Leigh Halfpenny his 98th cap – but a first Wales start since he suffered a serious knee injury in July 2021 – with Liam Williams omitted.

Wing Louis Rees-Zammit, prop Gareth Thomas and Lions forwards Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau also feature among nine changes.

Williams and North both fail to make Gatland’s matchday 23, with Biggar, Scarlets scrum-half Kieran Hardy and Saracens centre Nick Tompkins providing back division cover.

Justin Tipuric, Alun Wyn Jones and Talupe Faletau, l-rJustin Tipuric, Alun Wyn Jones and Talupe Faletau, l-r, return (Nigel French/David Davies/PA)

At 6ft 5in and more than 17 stones, Grady offers a similar physical presence to North and he has landed his Test match chance after just 20 first-team appearances for Cardiff.

Gloucester wing Rees-Zammit features for the first time in this season’s Six Nations after recovering from an ankle injury while Jones wins his 157th cap, replacing Exeter forward Dafydd Jenkins.

The players omitted after Murrayfield are Liam Williams, North, Biggar, Jenkins, Rio Dyer, Wyn Jones, Dillon Lewis, Tommy Reffell and Jac Morgan.

With the game going ahead after strike action by Wales players was averted on Wednesday, Gatland’s team will aim to avoid suffering three successive defeats from the start of a Six Nations campaign for the first time since 2003.

Wales, though, will be encouraged by winning five of their last seven fixtures against England in Cardiff.

Mason Grady, centre, in action against England Under-20sMason Grady will win his first Wales cap (David Davies/PA)

Gatland said: “There’s some experience coming back into the side with Taulupe Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Alun Wyn Jones and also Leigh Halfpenny.

“And then we’re mixing that with giving players an opportunity. Owen Williams coming in at ten – we need to find out about that ten position so Owen gets a chance.

“We’ve given Mason Grady a first cap. He’s a big lad, he’s got some really lovely rugby skills and offloading ability. He’s quick, so he’s the kind of centre that I think is going to have it all going forward.

"He’s got a good rugby head on him. He’s still pretty inexperienced so the big message to him has been ‘what’s the biggest thing you need to work on?’.

"He said keep talking and keep communicating, so that’s been the focus for him and I’ve been really happy with him in training.

“We know the history of Wales and England; what that means to everyone in Wales, so we’ve got to go out there and give a good performance.

“For both teams this is a massive game because we win on Saturday and we can get things on track a little bit more. For England it’s a huge game because if you look at their final two games that’s a challenge too, so it’s a huge moment in this competition.”

Wales senior men’s team to face England:

(Saturday 25 February KO 4.45pm GMT. Live on BBC and S4C):

15. Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets – 97 caps)

14. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby – 46 caps)

13. Mason Grady (Cardiff Rugby – uncapped)

12. Joe Hawkins (Ospreys – 3 caps)

11. Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby – 22 caps)

10. Owen Williams (Ospreys – 4 caps)

9. Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 42 caps)

1. Gareth Thomas (Ospreys – 18 caps)

2. Ken Owens (Scarlets – 88 caps) captain

3. Tomas Francis (Ospreys – 68 caps)

4. Adam Beard (Ospreys – 43 caps)

5. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys – 156 caps)

6. Christ Tshiunza (Exeter Chiefs – 4 caps)

7. Justin Tipuric (Ospreys – 90 caps)

8. Taulupe Faletau (Cardiff Rugby – 97 caps)


16. Bradley Roberts (Dragons – 3 caps)

17. Rhys Carre (Cardiff Rugby – 19 caps)

18. Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Rugby – 47 caps)

19. Dafydd Jenkins (Exeter Chiefs – 3 caps)

20. Tommy Reffell (Leicester Tigers – 6 caps)

21. Kieran Hardy (Scarlets – 16 caps)

22. Dan Biggar (Toulon – 105 caps)

23. Nick Tompkins (Saracens – 25 caps)