Warburton returns to lead Wales

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Wales captain Sam Warburton returns to the starting line-up as one of three changes to the side to face Ireland in Dublin on Saturday (Kick off 14:30) (Check your local listings)

The Cardiff Blues flanker, regional teammate Gethin Jenkins and Newport Gwent Dragons second-row Andrew Coombs come into the side that kicked off the defence of their RBS 6 Nations title with victory against Italy last weekend.

Jenkins comes into the front-row and will win his 102nd Wales cap at the Aviva Stadium alongside Richard Hibbard and Adam Jones (both Ospreys).

In the second-row Coombs, who made his debut against Ireland twelve months ago replaces Luke Charteris who is ruled out with a hamstring injury and he will partner Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys) who led Wales to their opening day victory.

Warburton, who featured off the bench against the Azzurri, starts at openside flanker alongside Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro) and Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons). Since making his Six Nations debut at the Aviva Stadium in 2012 Faletau has started every match in the competition for Wales.

The backline remains unchanged for the trip across the Irish sea.

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny will win his 50th cap aged just 25. He again lines-up in a back three alongside Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues) and George North (Northampton Saints) for a 12th straight time in the Six Nations.

Try scorer at the Millennium Stadium last Saturday, Scott Williams (Scarlets), and Racing Metro’s Jamie Roberts continue their partnership in the midfield, with Rhys Priestland (Scarlets) and Mike Phillips (Racing Metro) featuring at half-back.

“It’s great to bring Sam and Gethin back into the side and it’s a good opportunity for Andrew Coombs to start as well,” said Gatland.

“Last weekend was a good hit out for a lot of reasons, but we still have things to work on and we know how important this game is.”

“We haven’t lost an away match in the Six Nations since 2011 and we have to have the belief and confidence that we can do it again this weekend.”

“It’s going to be tough, both sides won their opening game, we will have to be physical and take it to them.”

“We feel in most tournaments we get stronger as it goes on and that will need to be the case this weekend.”

On the bench Paul James (Bath Rugby) will win his 50th cap if he takes to the field and he is joined amongst the replacement s by Scarlets front-row duo Ken Owens and Rhodri Jones. Uncapped Scarlets second-row Jake Ball features in a match-day squad for the first time and is named alongside Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), James Hook (Perpignan) and Liam Williams (Scarlets).


Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro), George North (Northampton Saints), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Racing Metro), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Andrew Coombs (Newport Gwent Dragons), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro), Sam Warburton (CAPT – Cardiff Blues), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements: Ken Owens (Scarlets), Paul James (Bath Rugby), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), James Hook (Perpignan), Liam Williams (Scarlets).

Aviva Stadium, Dublin – Saturday, 8 February KO 14:30

15 LEIGH HALFPENNY (Cardiff Blues)
Position: Full Back
Cap No. 1060
DOB: 22.12.1988
Ht: 1.78m/5’10”​Wt: 85kg / 13st 5lb
Test Record: 49 (24-0-25), 3547ts (12t, 27c, 81p)

14 ALEX CUTHBERT (Cardiff Blues)
Position: Wing
Cap No. 1089
DOB: 05.04.1990
Ht: 1.98m/6’6”​Wt: 103kg / 16st 3lb
Test Record: 20 (10-0-10), 50pts (10t)

13 SCOTT WILLIAMS (Scarlets)
Position: Centre
Cap No. 1084
DOB: 10.10.1990​
Ht: 1.83m/6’0”​Wt: 101kg / 15st 13lb​
Test Record: 24 (14-0-10), 35pts (7t)

12 JAMIE ROBERTS (Racing Metro 92)
Position: Centre
Cap No. 1057
DOB: 08.11.1986​
Ht: 1.93m/6’4”​Wt: 110kg / 17st 5lb​
Test Record: 54 (28-0-26), 25pts (5t)

11 GEORGE NORTH (Northampton Saints)
Position: Wing
Cap No. 1078
DOB: 13.04.1992
Ht: 1.92m/6’4”​Wt: 109kg / 17st 3lb​
Test Record: 36 (18-1-17), 75pts (15t)

Position: Outside Half
Cap No. 1080
DOB: 09.01.1987​
Ht: 1.82m/6’0”​Wt: 95kg / 15st 0lb​
Test Record: 26 (13-0-13), 56pts (1t, 12c, 9p)

9 MICHAEL PHILLIPS (Racing Metro 92)
Position: Scrum Half
Cap No. 1022
DOB: 29.08.1982​
Ht: 1.91m/6’3” ​Wt: 101kg / 15st 10lb​
Test Caps: 81 (39-2-40), 45pts (9t)

1 GETHIN JENKINS (Cardiff Blues)
Position: Prop
Cap No. 1006
DOB: 17.11.1980
Ht: 1.88m/6’2” Wt: 121kg / 19st 1lb
Test Record: 101 (45-2-54), 20pts (4t)

Position: Hooker
Cap No. 1048
DOB: 13.12.1983
Ht: 1.83m/6’0” ​Wt: 110kg / 17st 5lb
Test Record: 27 (14-0-13), 5pts (1t)

3 ADAM JONES (Ospreys)
Position: Prop
Cap No. 1018
Ht: 1.83m/6’0” ​Wt: 122kg / 19st 3lb​
Test Record: 90 (45-3-42), 10pts (2t)

Position: Lock
Cap No. 1099
DOB: 27.10.1984
Ht: 1.93m/6’4” ​Wt: 110kg / 17st 4lb
Test Record: 7 (5-0-2)

5 ALUN WYN JONES (Ospreys)
Position: Lock
Cap No. 1046
Ht: 1.96m/6’5” ​Wt: 122kg / 19st 3lb​
Test Record: 75 (35-0-40), 35pts (7t)

6 DAN LYDIATE (Racing Metro 92)
Position: Back Row
Cap No. 1071
DOB: 18.12.1987
Ht: 1.93m/6’4” ​Wt: 112kg / 17st 6lb​
Test Record: 31 (14-1-16)

7 SAM WARBURTON (Cardiff Blues – Captain)
Position: Back Row
Cap No. 1070
DOB: 05.10.1988
Ht: 1.88m/6’2” ​Wt: 103kg / 16st 4lb
Test Record: 42 (20-0-22), 10pts (2t)

Position: No 8
Cap No. 1082
DOB: 12.11.1990
Ht: 1.87m/6’2” ​Wt: 112kg / 17st 8lb
Test Record: 30 (16-0-14), 15pts (3t)

16 KEN OWENS (Scarlets)
Position: Hooker
Cap No. 1088
DOB: 03.01.1987​
Ht: 1.86m/6’1” ​Wt: 109kg / 17st 3lb​
Test Record: 20 (12-0-8), 5pts (1t)

17 PAUL JAMES (Bath Rugby)
Position: Prop
Cap No. 1021
DOB: 13.05.1982​
Ht: 1.86m/6’1”​Wt: 115kg / 18st 2lb​
Test Record: 49 (23-1-25)​

18 RHODRI JONES (Scarlets)
Position: Prop
Cap No. 1093
Ht: 1.91m/ 6’3” ​Wt: 116kg / 18st 3lb​
Test Record: 6 (4-0-2)

19 JAKE BALL (Scarlets)​
Position: Second Row
DOB: 21.06.1991​
Ht: 2.00M/6’7” ​Wt: 121kg / 19st 0lb​

20 JUSTIN TIPURIC (Ospreys)​
Position: Back Row
Cap No. 1087
DOB: 06.08.1989​
Ht: 1.88m/6’2” ​Wt: 101kg / 17st 13lb​
Test Record: 20 (11-0-9)

21 RHYS WEBB (Ospreys)
Position: Scrum Half
Cap No. 1092
DOB: 09.12.1988
Ht: 1.83m/6’0” ​Wt: 88kg / 13st 12lb
Test Record: 4 (3-0-1)

22 JAMES HOOK (Perpignan)
Position: Utility Back
Cap No. 1047
Ht: 1.83m/6’0” ​Wt: 96kg / 15st 2lb
Test Record: 73 (33-2-38), 346pts (13t, 43c, 61p, 4d)

23 LIAM WILLIAMS (Scarlets)
Position: Wing / Full Back
Cap No. 1095
DOB: 09.04.1991
Ht: 1.88m/6’2” ​Wt: 86kg / 13st 6lb​
Test Record: 8 (3-0-5)

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