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Wales name side to face Ireland

Wales have named their team to face Ireland in the opening game of the Six Nations at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday.

Andrew Coombs will make his debut in the Wales second row, a position that has seen Alun Wyn Jones, Bradley Davies and Luke Charteris all miss out through injury. Ian Evans joins him in the second row having only just returned to fitness himself.

Sam Warburton captains the side from openside with Aaron Shingler at six. It had been rumoured that Justin Tipuric would start at seven with Warburton moving to the blindside, however Tipuric is on the bench. Toby Faletau makes up the back row.

Debutant Coombs only moved to the second row from the back row this season but will find himself likely to play the whole game with Evans likely to come off for another debuatant, Olly Kohn, having not fully regained match sharpness.

The debate over whether Rob Howley should pick Dan Biggar or James Hook at fly half still rages on, he has backed the Ospreys man for the Ireland game though, with Hook set to come on off the bench.

Jamie Roberts returns to the midfield alongside Jonathan Davies, whilst the back three remains Alex Cuthbert, George North and Leigh Halfpenny after the rising star that is Eli Walker held back by a hamstring strain.

The 2009 British and Irish Lions front row is reunited, with Adam Jones back to fitness and Gethin Jenkins back to form, Matthew Rees is at hooker between them.

Mike Phillips retains the number 9 shirt despite some patchy form over the autumn, the Lions Test scrum half has been under pressure from Lloyd Williams and Jason Tovey.

Ireland revealed their squad on Tuesday, and like Wales it included a number of Lions caps and a few new faces to the Six Nations, perhaps most excitingly on the wings in the form of Craig Gilroy and Simon Zebo.

Wales Squad v Ireland:

15. Leigh Halfpenny 14. Alex Cuthbert 13. Jonathan Davies 12. Jamie Roberts 11. George North 10. Dan Biggar 9. Mike Phillips; 1. Gethin Jenkins 2. Matthew Rees 3. Adam Jones 4. Andrew Coombs 5. Ian Evans 6. Aaron Shingler 7. Sam Warburton (captain) 8. Toby Faletau.

Replacements: 16. Ken Owens 17. Paul James 18. Craig Mitchell 19. Olly Kohn 20. Justin Tipuric 21. Lloyd Williams 22. James Hook 23. Scott Williams.

Ireland:

15. Rob Kearney 14. Craig Gilroy 13. Brian O’Driscoll 12. Gordon D’Arcy 11. Simon Zebo 10. Jonny Sexton 9. Connor Murray; 1. Cian Healy 2. Rory Best 3. Mike Ross 4. Mike McCarthy 5. Donnacha Ryan 6. Peter O’Mahony 7. Sean O’Brien 8. Jamie Heaslip (captain).

Replacements: 16. Sean Cronin 17. David Kilcoyne 18. Declan Fitzpatrick 19. Donncha O’Callaghan 20. Chris Henry 21. Eoin Reddan 22. Ronan O’Gara 23. Keith Earls.

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