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Wales hand debut against Center Hawkins for Australia duel

Ospreys center Joe Hawkins will make his Wales debut and lock Alun Wyn Jones has been called up in the starting line-up for Saturday’s Autumn Nations Series final against Australia.

Hawkins, 20, is filling in for Owen Watkin, who injured his knee in last Saturday’s humiliating home loss to Georgia.

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

Elsewhere, full-back Leigh Halfpenny is returning from the Wales team after a 16-month injury layoff and Gareth Anscombe is playing on the fly-half.

Further changes see wing Rio Dyer back in action – Josh Adams dropped to the bench – and number eight Taulupe Faletau packing for his 100th Wales and British and Irish Lions Test appearance.

Wales are chasing a fourth straight win over the Wallabies but head coach Wayne Pivac has only three wins from 11 starts this year.

Pivac comes under pressure into the clash at the Principality Stadium after Georgia’s 13-12 win, which was Wales’ 19th loss in their 33 Tests at the top.

And with Saturday’s game falling outside World Rugby’s autumn window, players like Gloucester back Louis Rees-Zammit, Saracens center Nick Tompkins and Exeter striker Christ Tshiunza are unavailable because their clubs have not cleared them for those games .

Whether Welsh Rugby Union chiefs decide to change head coach with just 10 months to go before the next World Cup remains to be seen, but there can be little doubt that Pivac’s job is now at stake.

“The whole team is very disappointed with the performance of the last week,” said Pivac.

“It’s not the result anyone wanted, it’s not the result anyone expected.

“We went through a verification process. We know what went wrong and what it takes to get the result this weekend.

“Owen Watkin has been injured which gives young Joe Hawkins a chance. He’s been in camp training for the last month and he’s learned a lot and he’s looked good in training so he’s getting a chance.

“Surely it’s a side we’ve chosen to achieve a result we’re desperate for.

“We’re playing against an Australian team who will have a lot of changes in the last month for probably similar reasons to ours, but what we know about Australia is that no matter what team they field, they are a dangerous side.”

Wales team: L Halfpenny (Scarlet); A Cuthbert (osprey), G North (osprey), J Hawkins (osprey), R Dyer (kites); G Anscombe (Ospreys), T Williams (Cardiff); G Thomas (Ospreys), K Owens (Scarlets), D Lewis (Cardiff), A Beard (Ospreys), AW Jones (Ospreys), J Morgan (Ospreys), J Tipuric (Ospreys, capt), T Faletau (Cardiff).

Substitutes: R Elias (Scarlets), R Jones (Dragons), T Francis (Ospreys), B Carter (Dragons), J Macleod (Scarlets), K Hardy (Scarlets), R Priestland (Cardiff), J Adams (Cardiff).

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