The 28-year-old Newport Gwent Dragons forward packs down in the second row alongside Ian Evans. Wales are shorn of injured locks Alun-Wyn Jones, Bradley Davies and Luke Charteris, while Evans has not started a game since November due to knee trouble.
Ospreys playmaker Dan Biggar, meanwhile, fills the fly-half role vacated by an injured Rhys Priestland as Wales look to end a seven-game losing run that represents their worst results sequence since 2003.
Interim head coach Rob Howley has resisted any temptation to field two openside flankers - skipper Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric - with Warburton retained in his familiar number seven shirt, Aaron Shingler filling blindside duties and Tipuric on the bench.
Former Wales captain Ryan Jones, who would have offered a back-row or second-row option, is sidelined after dislocating his thumb during the Ospreys's Heineken Cup game against Leicester 18 days ago.
Jones, hooker Richard Hibbard, backs Liam Williams and Eli Walker and lock Lou Reed were all unavailable for selection due to injuries.
Howley has reunited the 2009 British and Irish Lions Test front row of Gethin Jenkins, who wins his 95th cap, Matthew Rees and Adam Jones, with powerhouse scrummager Jones back in action after missing Wales's entire autumn series this season because of a knee injury.
And there is a role among the replacements for uncapped Harlequins lock Olly Kohn. Born in Bristol, 31-year-old Kohn has Welsh qualification through his late grandfather, who hailed from the Rhymney Valley.
Wales team: L Halfpenny (Cardiff); A Cuthbert (Cardiff), J Davies (Scarlets), J Roberts (Cardiff), G North (Scarlets); D Biggar (Ospreys), M Phillips (Bayonne); G Jenkins (Toulon), M Rees (Scarlets), A Jones (Ospreys), A Coombs (Newport Gwent Dragons), I Evans (Ospreys), A Shingler (Scarlets), S Warburton (Cardiff, capt), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).
Replacements: K Owens (Scarlets), P James (Bath), C Mitchell (Exeter), O Kohn (Harlequins), J Tipuric (Ospreys), L Williams (Cardiff), J Hook (Perpignan), S Williams (Scarlets).