Warren Gatland has named four Ospreys in his starting XV to face reigning RBS 6 Nations champions Ireland in Dublin on Sunday, with one more among the replacements.
- Scott Baldwin, Dan Biggar, Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric all named to start
- Dan Lydiate has recovered from injury to take a place on the bench having last played in the Ospreys' New Year's Day win over the Dragons
- Wales face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium at 3pm on Sunday
Blues wing Tom James will form a new look back-three alongside Gareth Anscombe and George North. Anscombe, who made his international debut against Ireland last August, will make his first RBS 6 Nations start as he lines up at full-back.
Jonathan Davies returns to the side from injury for the first time since last year’s Six Nations and he is named alongside Jamie Roberts in midfield to reform Wales’ most capped centre pairing.
Biggar and Gareth Davies are the half-backs and they line-up together for the fifth consecutive match.
In the pack Rob Evans is joined in the front-row by Baldwin and Scarlets prop Samson Lee.
Luke Charteris and Alun Wyn continue their partnership in the second row.
Tipuric starts the game at the Aviva Stadium at openside flanker with captain Sam Warburton at blindside and Taulupe Faletau at number eight, completing an all-British and Irish Lions back-row.
“We are excited by the make-up of the squad, it’s very experienced along with one eye looking to the future,” said Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland.
“Rob (Evans) gets a start at loose-head, he’s played well for us before and deserves a chance looking ahead to the next few years.
“We have been impressed with Tom James’ form for Cardiff Blues and we are excited by the mix of the back-row which has played well together before. It’s great to see Jonathan (Davies) back and alongside Jamie, which makes a pretty experienced midfield. Gareth (Anscombe) at full-back also gives us the option of having two first receivers.
“We have a very experienced bench, with a lot of caps there and hopefully they will come on and make an impact.
“It’s going to be a physical game. Two years ago they strangled us out of the match and played well and we have to rise to that challenge on Sunday.”
On the bench Ken Owens, Gethin Jenkins and Tomas Francis provide the front-row cover with Bradley Davies and Lydiate rounding off the forward contingent. Davies will win his 50th cap if he takes to the field in Dublin. Lloyd Williams, Rhys Priestland and Alex Cuthbert provide the backline cover.
Wales team to play Ireland:
Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), George North (Northampton Saints), Jonathan Davies (ASM Clermont), Jamie Roberts (Harlequins), Tom James (Cardiff Blues), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Gareth Davies (Scarlets); Rob Evans (Scarlets), Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Luke Charteris (Racing 92), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues, CAPT), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).
Replacements: Ken Owens (Scarlets), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs), Bradley Davies (Wasps), Dan Lydiate (Ospreys), Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues), Rhys Priestland (Bath Rugby), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues).