Coach Gatland to hit the 100 mark with Wales

Warren Gatland will take charge of his 100th Test match when Wales face Tonga at the Millennium Stadium on Friday.

The New Zealander follows in the footsteps of compatriot and former Wales, British and Irish Lions and All Blacks head coach Graham Henry, who holds the record at 142.

Gatland has reached the landmark milestone with 38 matches as head coach of Ireland, 58 with Wales and three on this summer’s Lions tour of Australia.

“His record speaks for itself,” said Wales forward Ryan Jones. “The difference in the environment, the difference in the results — we’ve changed beyond all recognition from before.

“Warren has done that and he’s been incredibly successful. We are judged on results in professional sport and under Warren we’ve won trophies. It’s been a great few years.”

At the other end of the scale, wing Hallam Amos will make his Wales debut, as one of 11 changes to the side that defeated Argentina 40-6 last weekend.

The Newport Gwent Dragons rookie was drafted into the squad following a back-line injury crisis, which has seen Jonathan Davies, Scott Williams and Cory Allen join Jamie Roberts and Alex Cuthbert on the sidelines.

Wales assistant coach Robin McBryde expects the 19-year-old to seize his chance.

He said: “It’s a great opportunity for Hallam. He is playing alongside Leigh Halfpenny and George North. It is just a case of getting out there and showing what he can do.

“At regional level we have seen glimpses of that. He is a great runner with the ball in hand. No doubt he will be tested, but that’s international rugby.

“Undoubtedly he’s got the potential, it is just a case of delivering on Friday night. He has shown up well in training so we are really looking forward to watching him.”

Owen Williams and Ashley Beck form a new midfield partnership, while James Hook and Lloyd Williams come in at half-back.

Ken Owens and Paul James are handed starts in the front row, with Luke Charteris and Ian Evans, who returns from an Achilles injury, picked at lock. Jones captains the team from the back row where he is joined by Justin Tipuric and Andrew Coombs.

Tonga have never defeated Wales and go into the encounter on the back of defeats by Romania and France.

But they have been buoyed by the recent results of their fellow Pacfic Islanders against the Six Nations champions — Samoa claimed a victory in 2012 while Fiji held on for a draw in 2010.

“We usually hit our strap in our last Test match,” said Tonga captain Nili Latu.

“We had the upper hand against Romania and France but little things didn’t go our way, but we’ve been working really hard to target this game against Wales.

“Any player that takes the field for Wales will give 100 percent, but at the same time there’s an opportunity there for us as well. We’re bridging the gap, especially Samoa and Fiji. It’s really good seeing our Pacific brothers doing well.”

Head coach Mana Otai has made four changes to the side that lost to France, with Eddie Aholelei, Sila Puafisi, Viliami Ma’afu and Latiume Fosita all starting.

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