A NEWCASTLE Emlyn rugby player is one of the few Welsh players to retain a spot in the squad for the second group game against Portugal this weekend.

Gareth Davies started at scrum half in Wales’ hard-fought opening Rugby World Cup win against Fiji in Bordeaux on Sunday, September 10, and takes his place on the bench for the Portugal fixture.

Head coach Warren Gatland has drastically changed the squad due to the six-day turnaround between the fixtures and will give the matchday 23 a chance to impress.

Davies will be likely to feature off the bench as a replacement, with Tomos Williams instead starting in the scrum half position to win his 50th cap.

The only player to start in both games is winger Louis Rees-Zammit who retains his place on the wing.

Elsewhere, Dewi Lake will be captain as he returns to the squad after injury, with Jac Morgan being rested. Gareth Anscombe will start at fly-half after being left out of the squad for Fiji. Nicky Smith and Dillon Lewis will join Lake in the front row.

It is an all-new centre partnership of Johnny Williams and Mason Grady, with Leigh Halfpenny starting at fullback and is set to win his 101st cap.

Rio Dyer is another who featured against Fiji where he was a replacement, but he will join Rees-Zammit on the wing against Portugal.

Christ Tshiunza and Dafydd Jenkins will be in the second row, with Tshiunza making his firs appearance at lock for Wales.

Dan Lydiate, Tommy Reffell and Taulupe Faletau make up the back row, with Faletau being the only other player to start in both games, although Reffell did feature off the bench against Fiji.

Sam Costelow will again feature off the bench after being named in the replacements, as will Josh Adams, Corey Domachowski, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis and Adam Beard, all of whom started in the opening game against Fiji. Taine Basham comes onto the bench after missing out against Fiji.

Gatland said: “We’ve made a few changes this week given the six-day turnaround.

“This is an opportunity for this match day 23. I’ve said before, but there’s some great competition within the squad which is what we want to see. There’s a chance now for this group to go out Saturday and to put down their own marker in the tournament.

“We’ve done a thorough debrief of last week’s game and know the areas we need to improve. We have a clear plan of how we want to play on Saturday and it’s about going out there and executing that as we have prepared.

“Portugal are a skillful side and will be raring to go this weekend in their first match of the tournament. We’re excited to get back out there and looking forward to seeing more great support from the travelling fans out in Nice.”

Wales team to play Portugal at Stade de Nice on Saturday, September 16 (4.45pm BST kick off, live on ITV and S4C): 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 Mason Grady, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Rio Dyer, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Tomos Williams, 1 Nicky Smith, 2 Dewi Lake, 3 Dillon Lewis, 4 Christ Tshiunza, 5 Dafydd Jenkins, 6 Dan Lydiate, 7 Tommy Reffell, 8 Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Taine Basham, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Sam Costelow, 23 Josh Adams.