Wales v England: Alun Wyn Jones returns as Gatland announces side for Guinness Six Nations clash

The team announcement was paused on Tuesday following the threat of strike action by players Credit: PA

Warren Gatland has made nine changes to his team to face England, with Dan Biggar and George North the big names to drop out.

The fly-half has been demoted to the bench and North will not be involved at all.

There are four changes in the backs. Leigh Halfpenny and Louis Rees-Zammit return from injury, Owen Williams gets a start in the No.10 jersey and 20-year-old Mason Grady will make his debut in North's place at outside centre.

Alun Wyn Jones makes a return to the squad Credit: PA

In the forwards, Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau all return, as do props Gareth Thomas and Tomas Francis.

The long-awaited announcement comes after more than a week of uncertainty over whether the game would actually go ahead with a players strike on the table.

However, the Wales v England match was given the green light after the WRU and players came to a resolution on Wednesday.

It comes after players gathered at Wales’ training base in the Vale of Glamorgan on Wednesday to discuss a range of issues with Professional Rugby Board members, with many of them out of contract at their regional teams at the end of this season.

Players gathered at the Vale Hotel on Wednesday evening for crunch talks over their contracts

Wales have had a catastrophic run so far in the tournament following heavy losses to Scotland and Ireland amid the ongoing issues over their contracts.

The threat of players taking Six Nations strike action occurred as a result of a new six-year financial agreement between the Welsh Rugby Union and its four professional sides - Cardiff, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets - not being confirmed and no playing budgets finalised.

The roof of the stadium will be open for the game on Saturday Credit: PA

Acting Welsh Rugby Union Chief Executive, Nigel Walker, said he was pleased to confirm the game will go ahead following Wednesday's talks, after "extensive discussions and conversations over the last week".

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny; Josh Adams, Mason Grady, Joe Hawkins, Louis Rees-Zammit; Owen Willians, Tomos Williams; Gareth Thomas, Ken Owens (C), Tomas Francis; Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones; Christ Tshiunza, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.

Reps: Bradley Roberts, Rhys Carre, Dillon Lewis, Dafydd Jenkins, Tommy Reffell, Kieran Hardy, Dan Biggar, Nick Tompkins.

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