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Bennett set for 50th Wales cap

By Ospreys Rugby | 03/02/2012

Huw Bennett will win his 50th Wales cap in the RBS 6 Nations Championship opener against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Sunday (kick-off 3.00pm), becoming only the second Welsh hooker to reach the landmark figure.

Bennett is one of four Ospreys named in the starting line-up, with a further two on the bench.

Scarlets fly half Priestland and Blues centre Roberts have recovered from knee injuries in time to take their places in a starting line-up which shows six changes to that which faced Australia at the Millennium Stadium in December and just five from that which defeated Ireland in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals six weeks earlier.

Saracens loosehead prop Rhys Gill comes into the side for the injured Gethin Jenkins (knee), after winning his other cap two years ago - appearing from the bench against Ireland at Croke Park in the 2010 RBS 6 Nations.

Blues wing Alex Cuthbert, who made his debut against Australia before Christmas, makes his first start profiting from the retirement of Shane Williams, with Scarlets wing George North (who played in all 7 RWC matches last year) switching flanks to take the No11 jersey synonymous with Wales’ top try scorer.

The third player with a single cap to his name is Scarlets hooker Ken Owens, who starts on the bench after making his debut at the RWC in the Pool D clash with Namibia.

Elsewhere in the starting XV Scarlet Jonathan Davies (7 RWC 2011 appearances) is reunited with Roberts (6 RWC 2011 appearances) and Bayonne scrum half Mike Phillips (6 RWC 2011 appearances) also returns.

Davies replaces his Regional colleague Scott Williams and Phillips replaces Blues half back Lloyd Williams, with both departing players providing cover from the bench. 

Ospreys and British and Irish Lions prop Adam Jones returns to the front row alongside Gill and half centurion Bennett.

The final change from the Australia match sees another Osprey Ryan Jones come into the back row for injured Dragon Dan Lydiate (ankle).

The second row duo of Ian Evans (Ospreys) and Bradley Davies (Blues) is retained, with this pairing giving the side a different look as neither figured in the RWC showdown with Ireland.

Blues full back Leigh Halfpenny, Roberts, North, Priestland, Bennett, captain Sam Warburton (Blues) and Dragons No8 Toby Faletau (the other player alongside North and Davies to play in all 7 RWC 2011 matches) are all retained from last time out in Cardiff and all figured in that historic match at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

 “We have been able to retain continuity in some key areas, we have been working hard and we feel we are approaching this match with the right attitude and with some good preparation work done,” said Wales head coach Warren Gatland.

“We are two sides who know each other well, Ireland will not have enjoyed losing to us in New Zealand, they will want to redress the balance in Dublin this weekend, but they will find us in just as determined mood.”

On the bench James Hook (Perpignan) joins the Williamses in providing cover for the backs and could win his 60thcap.  Osprey Paul James joins Owens to provide front row cover and Sale Sharks No8 Andy Powell and Osprey Justin Tipuric complete the list of replacements.  Dan Lydiate (ankle), Matthew Rees (calf) and Gethin Jenkins (knee) were unavailable for selection due to injury.

Meanwhile, Ospreys wing Tommy Bowe has been named in the Ireland team.

WALES

15 Leigh HALFPENNY (CARDIFF BLUES – Cap No 1,060) DoB: 22.12.88. 5’10” / 1.77m. 13st 2lbs / 83kgs International record: 27 caps (W 12, L 15; 75 pts – 9T, 10PG)

14 Alex CUTHBERT (CARDIFF BLUES – Cap No 1,089) DoB: 05.04.90. 6’6” / 1.98m. 16st 5lbs / 104kgs International record: 1 cap (L 1)

13 Jonathan DAVIES (SCARLETS – Cap No 1,066) DoB: 05.04.88. 6’1” / 1.86m. 16st 3lb / 103kgs International record: 21 caps (W 11, L 10; 25 pts – 5T)

12 Jamie ROBERTS (CARDIFF BLUES – Cap No 1,057) DoB: 08.11.86. 6’4” / 1.93m. 17st 5lbs / 110kgs International record: 39 caps (W 18, L 21; 20 pts – 4T)

11 George NORTH (SCARLETS – Cap No 1,078) DoB: 13.04.92. 6’4” / 1.92m. 16st 5lbs / 104kgs International record: 16 caps (W 6, L 9, D 1; 45 pts – 9T)

10 Rhys PRIESTLAND (SCARLETS – Cap No 1,080) DoB: 07.01.87 1.82m / 6’0”. 13st 9lbs / 87kgs International record: 10 caps (W 6, L 4; 50 pts – 1T, 12C, 7PG)

9 Mike PHILLIPS (BAYONNE – Cap No 1,022) DoB: 29.08.82. 6’3” / 1.91m. 15st 10lb / 101kgs International record: 60 caps (W 28, L 29, D 2; 40 pts – 8T)

1 Rhys GILL (SARACENS – Cap No 1,073) DoB: 30.10.86. 5’11” / 1.80m. 17st 2lbs / 109kgs International record: 1 cap (L 1)

2 Huw BENNETT (OSPREYS – Cap No 1,017) DoB: 11.06.83. 6’0” / 1.83m. 16st 8lbs / 105kgs International record: 49 caps (W 23, L 25, D 1)

3 Adam JONES (OSPREYS – Cap No 1,018) DoB: 08.03.81. 6’0” / 1.83m. 18st 12lb / 120kgs International record: 75 caps (W 35, L 37, D 3; 10 pts – 2T)

4 Bradley DAVIES (CARDIFF BLUES – Cap No 1,065) DoB: 09.01.87. 6’6” / 1.98m. 19st 1lbs / 121kgs International record: 32 caps (W 14, L 17, D 1)

5 Ian EVANS (OSPREYS – Cap No 1,045) DoB: 04.10.84. 6’8” / 2.04m. 18st 3lbs / 116kgs International record: 17 caps (W 6, L 10, D 1; 5 pts – 1T)

6 Ryan JONES (OSPREYS – Cap No 1,029) DoB: 13.03.81. 6’5” / 1.96m. 17st 5lbs / 110kgs International record: 58 caps (W 28, L 28, D 2; 5 pts – 1T

7 Sam WARBURTON (CARDIFF BLUES, CAPTAIN – Cap No 1,070) DoB: 05.10.88. 1.88m / 6’2”. 16st 4lbs / 103kgs International record: 24 caps (W 12, L 12; 10 pts - 2T)

8 Toby FALETAU (NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS – Cap No 1,082) DoB: 12.11.90. 1.88m / 6’2”. 17st 5lbs / 110kgs International record: 11 caps (W 5, L 6; 10 pts – 2T)

REPLACEMENTS:

16 Ken OWENS (SCARLETS – Cap No 1,088) DoB: 03.01.87. 6’1” / 1.86m. 17st 8lbs / 112kgs International record: 1 cap (W 1)

17 Paul JAMES (OSPREYS – Cap No 1,021) DoB: 13.05.82. 6’1” / 1.86m. 18st 2lbs / 115kgs International record: 31 caps (W 12, L 18, D 1)

18 Andy POWELL (SALE SHARKS – Cap No 1,061) DoB: 23.08.81. 6’4” / 1.94m. 18st 0lbs / 114kgs International record: 22 caps (W 12, L 10; 5 pts – 1T)

19 Justin TIPURIC (OSPREYS – Cap No 1,086) DoB: 06.08.89. 1.88m / 6’2” 15st 10lbs / 100kgs International record: 2 caps (W 1, L 1)

20 Lloyd WILLIAMS (CARDIFF BLUES – Cap No 1,087) DoB: 30.11.89. 6’0” / 1.83m. 13st 9lbs / 87kgs International record: 5 caps (W 3, L 2; 10 pts – 2T)

21 James HOOK (PERPIGNAN – Cap No 1,047) DoB: 27.06.85. 6’0” / 1.83m. 14st 12lbs / 94kgs International record: 59 caps (W 25, L 32, D 2; 326 pts – 12T, 40C, 58PG, 4DG)

22 Scott WILLIAMS (SCARLETS – Cap No 1,084) DoB: 10.10.90. 6’0” / 1.83m. 15st 3lbs / 97kgs International record: 8 caps (W 4, L 4; 20 pts – 4T)

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