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Rees-Zammit to start at full-back for Wales against Argentina

Louis Rees-Zammit will make his first Wales start at full-back in their Autumn Nations Series rugby clash with Argentina in Cardiff on Saturday.

The Gloucester flyer has been moved from his usual wing berth by coach Wayne Pivac, with Wales full-backs Liam Williams and Leigh Halfpenny both injured.

Rees-Zammit made his Test debut after going on as a second-half substitute for Halfpenny against France in 2020, but his subsequent 19 appearances were all on the wing.

Alex Cuthbert, who has recovered from a shoulder issue, completes the back three alongside Rio Dyer, a try-scorer on his Test debut during a 55-23 defeat by Pivac’s native New Zealand last weekend.

Gareth Anscombe, who deputised for Halfpenny against the All Blacks, reverts to fly-half, replacing Rhys Priestland.

“Last week we had Leigh Halfpenny unavailable at the last minute and we’d trained a certain way so we went with Gareth Anscombe at full-back who’s done that before at this level,” said Pivac.

“We’re back to Gareth at 10 and we have Louis Rees-Zammit at full-back. He’s trained there the entire week. 

“He’s looked good in training and it’s something we’ve explored in the background, so it will be good information going forwards with the Six Nations around the corner and the Rugby World Cup,” he added. 

Up front, Wales captain Justin Tipuric has moved to openside flanker in the absence of the injured Tommy Reffell, with No 8 Taulupe Faletau and Dan Lydiate completing a back-row trio boasting a combined 246 caps.

But there is no place in the matchday 23 for world-record cap-holder Alun Wyn Jones, with Ben Carter providing second-row bench cover.

Argentina began their European tour with a 30-29 win over England at Twickenham and the Pumas’ most recent meeting with Wales saw them crush Pivac’s men 33-11 at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium last year.

Their Twickenham triumph was the latest impressive Argentina away performance under coach Michael Cheika, with the Pumas having defeated the All Blacks 25-18 in Christchurch in August. 

“They’re a very big team, very strong up front,” said Pivac of Argentina. 

“They have expanded their attacking game and they took an excellent try against England from the set play.”

He added: “They’ve knocked over some big scalps in the last 18 months, New Zealand being one of them. They are going to be a big challenge but one we’re looking forward to. 

“After last week’s performance we need a reaction from our team.”

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