Wales hand debut to centre Joe Hawkins for Australia clash

Joe Hawkins will make his senior team debut (Bradley Collyer/PA) (PA Archive)
Joe Hawkins will make his senior team debut (Bradley Collyer/PA) (PA Archive)

Ospreys centre Joe Hawkins will make his Wales debut and lock Alun Wyn Jones has been recalled to the starting line-up for Saturday’s Autumn Nations Series finale against Australia.

Hawkins, 20, steps in for Owen Watkin, who suffered a knee injury during last Saturday’s humiliating home defeat against Georgia.

World record cap holder and former Wales skipper Jones, meanwhile, replaces Ben Carter for a first international start since last season’s Six Nations Championship.

Elsewhere, full-back Leigh Halfpenny returns following a 16-month injury absence from the Wales team, and Gareth Anscombe features at fly-half.

Other changes see wing Rio Dyer back in action – Josh Adams drops to the replacements’ bench – and number eight Taulupe Faletau packing down for his 100th Wales and British and Irish Lions Test match appearance.

Wales are chasing a fourth successive victory over the Wallabies, but head coach Wayne Pivac has overseen just three wins from 11 starts this year.

Pivac goes into the Principality Stadium clash under huge pressure following Georgia’s 13-12 success, which was Wales’ 19th defeat in his 33 Tests at the helm.

And with Saturday’s game falling outside World Rugby’s autumn window, players like Gloucester back Louis Rees-Zammit, Saracens centre Nick Tompkins and Exeter forward Christ Tshiunza are unavailable because they have not been released by their clubs for those fixtures.

Whether Welsh Rugby Union chiefs decide on a change of head coach just 10 months out from the next World Cup remains to be seen, but there can be little doubt that Pivac’s job is now on the line.