Wales head coach has named his team to play in Friday night’s Six Nations curtain-raiser, with Tomos Williams preferred to start in place of Gareth Davies.
The Cardiff Blues scrum-half will emulate Wales great Sir Gareth Edwards in making his Six Nations debut in Paris and will partner his club teammate Gareth Anscombe at half-back.
In his final Six Nations tournament as head coach Gatland complimented the experience of his team as being good enough to rattle a sizeable France pack.
“We are looking forward to kicking off the Six Nations and kicking off our 2019 campaign as a whole.
“We come into the game on an impressive run of results but we know how tough it will be to face France in Paris in the tournament opener.
“It will be a huge contest but we are excited going into it. We have a great deal of experience across the team and on the bench and we want to kick things off well on Friday.”
Setback by the news Taulupe Faletau has re-broken his arm on the eve of Gatland’s Six Nations squad announcement earlier this month, the coaching staff have selected a back row trio of Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric and Ross Moriarty.
Elsewhere in the Wales pack, history awaits hooker Ken Owens who is set to become the country’s most-capped hooker on the occasion of his 61st cap.
The backline outside of the half-backs is as you expect, with Hadleigh Parkes and Jonathan Davies the centre partnership, while a back three of Josh Adams, George North and Liam Williams will try to stymie the France attack in the wide channels.
France themselves have announced a formidable pack, with each forward weighing an average of 19st1lb (121.3kg).
Head coach Jacques Brunel has handed a debut to former Bulls lock Paul Willemse, who qualifies for eligibility five years on from leaving his native South Africa for Grenoble and later for current club Montpellier.
Young Toulouse centre Romain Ntamack has followed in his father Emile’s footsteps to represent his country at the highest level.
The 19-year-old will start at inside centre with Wesley Fofana for company in the France midfield.
France: Maxime Medard, Damian Penaud, Wesley Fofana, Romain Ntamack, Yohann Huget, Camille Lopez, Morgan Parra; Jefferson Poirot, Guilhem Guirado, Uini Atonio, Sébastien Vahaamahina, Paul Willemse, Wenceslas Lauret, Arthur Itturia, Louis Picamoles.
Replacements: Julien Marchand, Dany Priso, Demba Bamba, Felix Lambey, Gregory Alldritt, Baptiste Serin, Gael Fickou, Geoffrey Doumayrou.
Wales: Liam Williams, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Gareth Anscombe, Tomos Williams; Rob Evans, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones, Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty.
Replacements: Elliot Dee, Wyn Jones, Samson Lee, Cory Hill, Aaron Wainwright, Gareth Davies, Dan Biggar, Owen Watkin.
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