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Scrumhalf Mike Phillips dropped by Wales against France in 6 Nations; George North at centre

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CARDIFF, Wales - Wales dropped British Lions scrumhalf Mike Phillips and will start George North at centre for the first time for the Six Nations rugby match against France at Millennium Stadium on Friday.

Ospreys No. 9 Rhys Webb will make his first start in a match Wales must win to keep alive its hopes of winning a third successive championship.

Phillips, relegated to the reserves, has been Wales' first-choice scrumhalf since 2008, and racked 82 caps. He was the Lions' choice in the series win in Australia last year.

Webb was a replacement in the Six Nations opener against Italy, his first appearance for Wales since 2012, when he also made substitute appearances in three matches.

"Rhys played excellently for the Ospreys at the weekend, and he gives us a different dimension," coach Warren Gatland said on Wednesday.

Liam Williams slots into the left wing spot vacated by North, who continues where he finished against Ireland.

North replaced the injured Scott Williams in midfield during the 26-3 loss in Dublin and was preferred there for France ahead of James Hook after injuries ruled out Jonathan Davies and Ashley Beck.

"George brings great footwork to the role and we were impressed when he went there against Australia in the autumn," Gatland said. "His partnership with Jamie will be important as we look to stop the directness of France and Mathieu Bastareaud."

France-based lock Luke Charteris, who missed the Ireland game because of a hamstring strain, was back in place of Andrew Coombs in the only change to the pack.

"Luke has been working really hard over the past couple of weeks and it's a big boost for us that he is back," Gatland said.

"Friday is a massive game for us. As a squad, we have a huge amount of experience in this tournament and we will be calling on that this weekend. We see the game as a huge opportunity for us to put things right."

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Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert, George North, Jamie Roberts, Liam Williams, Rhys Priestland, Rhys Webb; Taulupe Faletau, Sam Warburton (captain), Dan Lydiate, Alun-Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris, Adam Jones, Richard Hibbard, Gethin Jenkins. Reserves: Ken Owens, Paul James, Rhodri Jones, Jake Ball, Justin Tipuric, Mike Phillips, Dan Biggar, James Hook.

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