6N: North out as Wales change 5, Scotland change 3
George North’s 100th test for Wales was delayed after he was ruled out of the Six Nations match against Scotland this weekend by a foot injury.
North got over a scratched cornea against Ireland on Sunday, when Wales won 21-16 to open its campaign. But the center was then injured in training.
He's one of five injury-enforced absences -- four in the backline -- for the match at Murrayfield on Saturday.
A right hamstring injury to scrumhalf Tomos Williams has seen him replaced by Gareth Davies; Johnny Williams’ head knock and North’s injury have prompted a new centers pairing of Nick Tompkins and Owen Watkin; and a head knock for wing Hallam Amos saw him replaced by Liam Williams, who has completed a three-match ban for illegal contact with the head of an opponent.
The only change in the forwards was Aaron Wainwright replacing flanker Dan Lydiate, who damaged right knee ligaments in his first test in more than two years and could be out for the season.
Wainwright was coach Wayne Pivac’s third choice. Josh Navidi, who replaced Lydiate on the field, hurt his neck, then Josh Macleod was picked on Wednesday to make his debut but ruptured an Achilles tendon.
Pivac said: “Injuries of any description are not pleasant. The most disappointing is young Josh Macleod who missed the autumn, was named (on Wednesday) in front of his peers only to be stretchered off in training half an hour later.”
Pivac brought into the reserves flanker James Botham, who was capped in the autumn, and uncapped Cardiff back Uilisi Halaholo. Halaholo, born in New Zealand with Tongan heritage, qualified for Wales on residency in 2019 and was picked for Pivac’s first match, a non-cap game against the Barbarians. But he suffered a serious knee injury, and was out for 11 months until October.
"He's got the ability to break the line which not everyone has. Hopefully we'll see that on the weekend,” Pivac said.
"I'm from New Zealand and I coached Willis over there. I know him well. He's got a good head on his shoulders despite a tough upbringing. He brings to us an exciting skillset.”
Pivac estimated 21 players were unavailable. They did not include veteran Wales and British Lions backs Jamie Roberts and Rhys Webbs.
Pivac said Halaholo had a broader skillset than Roberts, and Webb did not want to be No. 3 in the scrumhalf pecking order.
Meanwhile, Scotland made three changes after beating England 11-6 at Twickenham for the first time in 38 years.
Flanker Jamie Ritchie, center Cameron Redpath, and wing Sean Maitland were all out injured.
In their respective places were Blade Thomson, James Lang, and Darcy Graham. All three played in the last match against Wales in October, when Scotland won in Llanelli to finish the delayed Six Nations.
Scotland: Stuart Hogg (captain), Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, James Lang, Duhan van der Merwe, Finn Russell, Ali Price; Matt Fagerson, Hamish Watson, Blade Thomson, Jonny Gray, Scott Cummings, Zander Fagerson, George Turner, Rory Sutherland. Reserves: David Cherry, Oli Kebble, WP Nel, Richie Gray, Gary Graham, Scott Steele, Jaco van der Walt, Huw Jones.
Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, Louis Rees-Zammit, Owen Watkin, Nick Tompkins, Liam Williams, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Taulupe Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Aaron Wainwright, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Adam Beard, Tomas Francis, Ken Owens, Wyn Jones. Reserves: Elliot Dee, Rhodri Jones, Leon Brown, Will Rowlands, James Botham, Kieran Hardy, Callum Sheedy, Uilisi Halaholo.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports