Wales v South Africa
Unattached Phillips gets Wales start
ESPN Staff
November 5, 2013
Mike Phillips will lead Wales from scrum-half © Getty Images

Mike Phillips starts for Wales against South Africa despite being sacked by Bayonne last week.

Phillips has endured a tough couple of weeks but Warren Gatland has been unwavering in his support of the experienced scrum-half and he gets the nod at No.9 for the match against the Boks.

And Rhys Priestland, who lasted started a match for Wales in December 2012, retakes his spot at fly-half after shining for the Scarlets so far this season. With Alex Cuthbert sidelined, Eli Walker is handed his debut on the wing.

In the locks, Bradley Davies partners Alun-Wyn Jones with Luke Charteris called on to the bench having missed last season's Six Nations through injury. The front-row has a familiar look with Gethin Jenkins winning his 99th cap and starts alongside Richard Hibbard and Adam Jones.

Sam Warburton skippers the team at openside with Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau joining him in the back-row with Justin Tipuric benched.

Saturday's game will be the first of four for Gatland's men and he is anticipating a tough match against the Boks. He said: "We always say we like to test ourselves against the best and Saturday is going to be just that with a huge game against South Africa first up.

"The Springboks arrive in the UK off the back of their impressive Rugby Championship campaign and we know that we need to start well on Saturday. We go into the series as Six Nations champions but we are looking forward to testing ourselves against the southern hemisphere sides and showing what we are can do.

"Since we have been together, competition in the squad has been good and it is great to have both Rhys and Dan back available for us. Eli has impressed for his Region and whilst with us and it's a great opportunity for him to make his mark in a very experienced side."

Wales team:

Leigh Halfpenny (Blues), George North (Northampton Saints), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Eli Walker (Ospreys), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Unattached), Gethin Jenkins (Blues), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Bradley Davies (Blues), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro), Sam Warburton (Blues, Capt), Toby Faletau

Replacements: Ken Owens (Scarlets), Paul James (Bath), Scott Andrews (Blues), Luke Charteris (Perpignan), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys) Lloyd Williams (Blues), James Hook (Perpignan), Liam Williams (Scarlets).

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