After weeks of negative headlines that have engulfed the sport, Wales face Ireland on Saturday in a fascinating Six Nations opening match.
The Welsh have turned to former head coach Warren Gatland to help them rediscover their form after winning just three of their 12 games in 2022. Expectations are high that they can win a first Six Nations since 2018.
However, Ireland have not won in Cardiff in the Six Nations since 2013. Andy Farrell’s Ireland won a series in New Zealand last summer and are the number one ranked side in the world.
Wales complete-back Liam Williams comes in as a late substitute for Leigh Halfpenny, who suffered a again spasm in education. Hooker Ken Owens captains his u . S . For the first time on his 87th cap and is certainly one of handiest forwards not from the Ospreys. Centre Joe Hawkins makes his championship debut.
Scrum-1/2 Jamison Gibson-Park turned into dominated out with a hamstring damage as Ireland had been compelled into creating a late change on Saturday. Conor Murray is available in to win his one hundred and first cap, with Craig Casey coming on to the bench.
Ireland prop Tadhg Furlong had already been dominated out having been bothered with the aid of ankle and calf accidents and is replaced with the aid of Finlay Bealham. With Robbie Henshaw nonetheless out, centre Stuart McCloskey retains his vicinity, with Bundee Aki named on the bench. Veteran captain Johnny Sexton is match after fracturing his cheekbone on New Year’s Day.
Andrew Cotter: How huge is the Warren impact? We’ll get a dependable indicator on the grounds that this Wales crew is sort of the equal 15 that started out for Wayne Pivac within the dramatic defeat in opposition to Australia in November.
Faith remains in some exquisite gamers who’re deep into their thirties, together with Ken Owens, Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric, but jumbled in with the subsequent generation in centre Joe Hawkins, wing Rio Dyer and the first rate flanker Jac Morgan.
Ireland are certainly favourites. They are ranked the exceptional within the world, built upon a Leinster facet who’re sweeping all earlier than them this season.
And yet… Tadhg Furlong is a massive leave out at tight-head prop and this fixture inside the Six Nations hasn’t been won by the away facet in 10 years. There is reason enough for Ireland to doubt and Wales to wish.
Six Nations Wales head coach Warren Gatland
The manner that those guys have been this week, I am assured that they may go out there and exhibit how plenty it way for them to put their crimson jersey on and how much it approach for them to play for Wales.
I think it is important we go out there and give a performance. I’m comfy with dropping if we get overwhelmed through a better side.
Ireland head train Andy Farrell at the stadium roof being closed: “It’s a outstanding stadium. We’ve been there before while it is closed and there may be no ecosystem adore it. It’s amazing. It can most effective be properly for us.
We need to consider the roof being closed. We wanted it closed as well to sample the ecosystem and preserve progressing on our adventure.
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- Ireland have won five out of the last six meetings in all competitions.
- The away team has not won any of the last nine Six Nations meetings, with each nation winning four games
- with one draw. The last time the away side won in this fixture came in Cardiff in 2013, when Ireland emerged victorious 30-22.
- Wales lost nine of their 12 Tests in 2022.
- They scored the fewest (12) and conceded the most points (40) of any side in the first 20 minutes of games in last year’s Championship. Conversely, they scored the second most (31) and conceded the joint-second fewest points (13) of any team in the last 20 minutes of matches.
- Across all Tests in 2022 they won the fewest turnovers (4.3) and stole the fewest opposition lineouts (0.3) of any Tier One nation.
Referee: Karl Dickson (ENG)
Touch judges: Angus Gardner (AUS) & Luke Pearce (ENG)
TMO: Tom Foley (ENG)