CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Winger George North and tighthead prop Samson Lee are back from concussions in a Wales side with four changes for the Six Nations rugby match against France in Paris this weekend.
Hooker Scott Baldwin and lock Luke Charteris were promoted from the reserves on Tuesday, 10 days after the narrow win over Scotland at Murrayfield.
Liam Williams, who started as North’s replacement against Scotland, kept his spot on the left wing after a rousing effort, and British Lion Alex Cuthbert was dropped from the match 23.
It’s the first Six Nations match he will miss since his first start in 2012.
“It was a tough call in the back three,” coach Warren Gatland said in a statement. “But it is a very strong team we are putting out.”
North, notably, and Lee missed the Scotland win after they were concussed in the championship opener against England. North controversially finished that match at Millennium Stadium, despite briefly losing consciousness from a clash of heads in the second half. World Rugby said North should have been taken off, but accepted Wales’ explanation that its medical staff didn’t see the incident.
Lee and Baldwin, swapping in for Aaron Jarvis and Richard Hibbard, join loosehead prop Gethin Jenkins to reform the front row which started in the win over South Africa last November.
Charteris, who has come off the bench in the last two games, bumped out Jake Ball to start in the second row with Alun Wyn Jones. Bradley Davies, who last featured in November, was the backup.
“It is nothing against Jake, but we have a lot of strength in depth (at lock), and it’s an opportunity to see the other two,” Gatland said.
Sam Warburton will equal Ryan Jones’ record of 33 matches as national captain on Saturday.
“We felt we improved against Scotland, and we are looking for another improvement this weekend. It’s a tough competition to go on the road and ask for that, but that is what we are looking for.”
Wales has beaten France in their last three matchups.