Ryan Jones is out of the Wales team for their final World Cup warm-up game on Saturday against Argentina. He had been ready to equal Ieuan Evans’ 28 games as Wales captain, but has succumbed to a calf injury.
Andy Powell takes over at number eight with Jonathan Thomas coming on to the bench and veteran flanker Martyn Williams takes over as captain as he returns to win a 99th cap. Adam Jones, Lee Byrne and Leigh Halfpenny return after respective toe, knee and ankle injuries. Stephen Jones is on the bench after recovering from his calf problem and will win a record 101st Wales cap if he comes on.
Gatland said: (quote) Criteria for selection has been about putting together a side to win the game, but also about giving some players the opportunity to impress and, therefore, bid for selection for the World Cup. In some areas we are also looking at combinations with that opening game against South Africa on 11 September always kept in mind. Beating the Pumas on Saturday would also mean we retain that all-important winning momentum going into the World Cup. But there are still many places up for grabs on that plane to New Zealand and the players all know they need to perform against the Pumas in order to further their own as well as the national cause. (end quote)
Gatland will name his 30-man squad for the World Cup on Monday, 22 August.
Former Leinster fly-half Felipe Contepomi leads an Argentina side including seven members of the squad that finished third in the last World Cup. He is joined by Leicester winger Horacio Agulla and five of the pack, including veteran former skipper Mario Ledesma at hooker and Juan Fernandez Lobbe at number eight. This is the first time Argentina’s professional players have been together since their European tour last November, when they lost to Ireland and France after beating Italy.
The Pumas have a second warm-up match against Worcester before taking on England and Scotland in their World Cup pool next month.
Wales: L Byrne (Clermont Auvergne); L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), J Davies (Scarlets), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), G North (Scarlets); J Hook (Perpignan), T Knoyle (Scarlets); P James (Ospreys), R Hibbard (Ospreys), A Jones (Ospreys), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), A-W Jones (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), M Williams (Cardiff Blues, capt), A Powell (Sale).
Replacements: H Bennett (Ospreys), R Bevington (Ospreys), J Thomas (Ospreys), J Tipuric (Ospreys), L Williams (Cardiff Blues), S Jones (Scarlets), A Brew (Newport Gwent Dragons).
Argentina: Martin Rodriguez; Horacio Agulla, Marcelo Bosch, Santiago Fernandez, Gonzalo Camacho; Felipe Contepomi (capt), Nicolas Vergallo; Rodrigo Roncero, Mario Ledesma, Juan Figallo, Manuel Carizza, Patricio Albacete, Julio Farias Cabello, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Juan Fernandez Lobbe.
Replacements: Agustin Creevy, Martin Scelzo, Mariano Galarza, Alejandro Campos, Alfredo Lalanne, Nicolas Sanchez, Juan Imhoff.