Six Nations 2014: Wales captain Sam Warburton returns for Ireland clash
Six Nations 2014: Captain Sam Warburton is back in the Wales side for the match against Ireland at The Aviva
Sam Warburton and Gethin Jenkins have been restored to the Wales starting line-up for Saturday’s Six Nations encounter with Ireland in Dublin.
The Welsh captain and centurion loosehead prop are two of three changes made by head coach Warren Gatland after their return from injury.
We feel in most tournaments we get stronger as it goes on and that will need to be the case this weekend
Andrew Coombs replaces Luke Charteris in the second row after the Perpignan giant picked up an injury in the 23-15 win against Italy.
“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.”
With Ireland odds-on favourites for the Aviva Stadium clash, Gatland has resisted the temptation to parachute centre Jonathan Davies into the starting line-up after he came through 40 minutes for the Scarlets in an LV=Cup match last weekend, instead opting to stay with the in-form Scott Williams and Jamie Roberts.
Winning his 50th cap for Wales, Leigh Halfpenny continues at full-back after a mixed performance last week which saw him kick 13 points but be at fault for Italy’s two tries, while Alex Cuthbert and George North will look to produce more clinical performances down the wings.
Rhys Priestland also continues at outside-half alongside Mike Philipps at scrum-half as Dan Biggar misses out altogether with utility back James Hook preferred on the replacements bench.
Gatland added: “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.”
Wales starting XV: 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 ( Cardiff Blues – captain), 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).