Big Names Return As Wales Name Team To Play Ireland

Welsh hooker Ken Owens says coach Warren Gatland gets a raw deal

Warren Gatland indicated yesterday that his plan for Wales to overcome Ireland in this Saturday's crunch NatWest Six Nations encounter will revolve around a physical attack on Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray.

Gatland yesterday named Lions trio Dan Biggar, Liam Williams and Leigh Halfpenny in his starting XV for the clash, with George North held in reserve despite a return to fitness.

"We have been pleased with how the forward pack has been going and how they have worked as a unit but as always there is pressure for them to perform too", Gatland said. "We've had some pretty good success..."

We have to be prepared to be pretty physical against them. The win over France was far from pretty but, in the Italy game, you felt as though one or two things were beginning to click.

'I thought the way Wales played at home against them past year (winning 22-9) was outstanding, that is the benchmark to take to Ireland. If we can do that, we have got a chance.

And despite being full of respect for Ireland Gatland is confident his side has the capability to win. "You have got to have a good running, attacking game against Ireland but also a good kicking game". Our line-speed defensively has got to be good.

It is with this in mind that Gatland and the Welsh think tank have recalled the combative Dan Biggar, the outhalf returning a fortnight ahead of schedule after he suffered a shoulder injury playing for the Ospreys against Clermont Auvergne on January 20th.

'But they're a quality side and we know how hard they are to beat.

"There will be a few tough calls on some individuals and we look forward to having that discussion later". "

"We don't want to use the fact that we have won two (Games this year) to try build up to a false sense of being complacent, where we're certainly not.


Replacements: E Dee (Dragons), W Jones (Scarlets), T Francis (Exeter), B Davies (Ospreys), J Tipuric (Ospreys), A Davies (Scarlets), G Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), G North (Northampton).

"He knows how to get the best out of players".

Halfpenny was a late casualty for the narrow defeat to England last time out with a foot infection, but may now come back into contention.

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 1 Rob Evans, 2 Ken Owens, 3 Samson Lee, 4 Cory Hill, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (C), 6 Aaron Shingler, 7 Josh Navidi, 8 Ross Moriarty.



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