Rebecca de Filippo is 'coming back into top form' says Wales head coach Rhys Edwards.
Wales head coach Rhys Edwards has sprung a few surprise selections in his side which will launch the Women's Rugby World Cup bid against hosts France at Marcoussis on tomorrow evening. (KO 7.45pm UK).
Established props Jenny Davies and Catrin Edwards will start the game from the bench with Caryl Thomas and Megan York getting the nod in the front row.
In the backs Rebecca de Filippo has forced her way into the starting line-up at the expense of Robyn Wilkins at inside centre while Adi Taviner is preferred on the wing instead of Dyddgu Hywel. Both Wilkins and Hywel are on the replacements bench.
Since arriving at their Paris base on Sunday, Edwards has been impressed with the way his side have settled in to their surroundings and has selected his squad purely on form.
"We've rewarded those players who have been producing good displays over the past few weeks. There were a number of contentious positions like the front row, back row and outside backs," he said.
"There is good competition for places and we wanted to give every player an opportunity to stake their claim. The sessions in France have been of a high standard and it's also important to get the right combinations. We have rewarded players who are currently playing well," he said.
It's been a real whirlwind for winger Adi Taviner. She didn't figure in the Six Nations and was out of the game for two years until she returned to international level when returning to Welsh ranks for the World Cup warm-up games against USA and Ireland.
"Adi had already been to one World Cup and she has come in like a breath of fresh air. She is a fine example of someone who has been rewarded for showing the right intentions," explained Edwards.
"Rebecca had a quiet Six Nations, she has said that herself but she has been producing good performances and coming back into top form. She played well against Ireland and hopefully she can reproduce that against France."
Edwards is fully aware his side face a huge challenge against France who will begin the match as firm favourites.
"The game is going to be huge, we can't hide from that," he said. "It's going to be a big occasion in front of a big crowd and on television. We have to make sure we are not daunted by that and be on top of our own game and get our performance right.
"The players are relishing the chance of taking on France in their own back yard. We know where we are. Realistically France are contenders for the Cup, so they will be under their own pressure with high expectations. If we focus on our own job and do well I see no reason why we can't challenge them," he said.
Women's Rugby World Cup: Wales Women v France Women, Friday 7.45pm, Marcoussis.
15 Laurie Harries (Llandaff North)
14 Adi Taviner (Neath Athletic)
13 Elen Evans (Waterloo)
12 Rebecca de Filippo (Bristol Ladies)
11 Phil Tuttiett (Bristol Ladies)
10 Elinor Snowsill (Bristol Ladies)
9 Amy Day (Llandaff North);
8 Sioned Harries (Llandaff North)
7 Rachel Taylor (Bristol Ladies)
6 Catrina Nicholas (Llandaff North)
5 Shone Powell-Hughes (Neath Athletic)
4 Jenny Hawkins (Llandaff North)
3 Megan York (Blaenau Gwent)
2 Lowri Harries (Neath Atheletic)
1 Caryl Thomas (Bath Ladies)
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.
The WRU officially unveiled the new pitch today in time for Wales to take on Australia in the first of the Dove Men Series autumn international matches this Saturday. Head Groundsman Lee Evans and colleague Craig Campbell reflect on the 15-week project and look ahead to a pitch perfect future at Millennium Stadium.