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Wales captain Jones will tie McCaw caps record in Paris

PARIS (AP) — Lock Alun Wyn Jones will equal the world record for test rugby appearances when he captains Wales against France on Saturday in Paris. Jones' 148th cap -- 139th for Wales, nine for the British and Irish Lions -- will tie him with retired New Zealand captain Richie McCaw.

“It is a fabulous achievement,” Wales coach Wayne Pivac said on Thursday of Jones' milestone. “He epitomizes what a great rugby player is all about. He is a true professional on and off the field and a gentleman of the game.”

The match is a warmup for the delayed last round of the Six Nations next week. France, and not Wales, remains in title contention. Other features of Pivac's first selection in seven months are the return of center Jonathan Davies and first appearances by Ospreys hooker Sam Parry and Gloucester wing Louis Rees-Zammit in the reserves.

Scrumhalf Rhys Webb will make his first appearance in nearly three years, Jones' locking partner, Cory Hill, his first since February 2019, and prop Samson Lee his first in more than a year. Davies last played for Wales at the Rugby World Cup in Japan a year ago, when he injured a knee. Pivac said Davies will be rested at some stage, and the 19-year-old Rees-Zammit will be given a debut.

France coach Fabien Galthie picked a similar team to the one which beat Wales 27-23 in Cardiff in the Six Nations eight months ago, before the coronavirus pandemic interrupted the competition. Vincent Rattez missed that match but is on the left wing to replace Gael Fickou.

Fickou is back in midfield alongside Virimi Vakatawa at center in place of Arthur Vincent, who started in Cardiff. Vincent is among the reserves at Stade de France and Matthieu Jalibert leaves the bench.

Scrumhalf Antoine Dupont and flyhalf Romain Ntamack stay as the first-choice halves, while the pack is unchanged from Cardiff with flanker Charles Ollivon captaining the side. France, which is in second place behind England in the Six Nations table, faces co-contender Ireland next Saturday in their championship finale at Stade de France.

Ireland has played one game less and hosts Italy in Dublin on Saturday.

Lineups:

France: Anthony Bouthier, Teddy Thomas, Virimi Vakatawa, Gael Fickou, Vincent Rattez, Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont; Gregory Alldritt, Charles Ollivon (captain), François Cros, Paul Willemse, Bernard Le Roux, Mohamed Haouas, Julien Marchand, Cyril Baille. Reserves: Jean-Baptiste Gros, Camille Chat, Demba Bemba, Romain Taofifenua, Dylan Cretin, Baptiste Serin, Arthur Vincent, Thomas Ramos.

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Jonathan Davies, Nick Tompkins, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Taulupe Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Aaron Wainwright, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Cory Hill, Samson Lee, Ryan Elias, Rhys Carre. Reserves: Sam Parry, Nicky Smith, Dillon Lewis, Seb Davies, James Davies, Gareth Davies, Rhys Patchell, Louis Rees-Zammit.

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