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Priestland And Roberts To Start For Wales

Priestland And Roberts To Start For Wales

Rhys Priestland and Jamie Roberts will both start for Wales in the RBS 6 Nations Championship opener against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday (kick-off 3pm).

Scarlets out-half Rhys Priestland and Cardiff Blues centre Jamie Roberts have recovered from their respective knee injuries in time to take their places in the team.

Warren Gatland’s selected starting line-up shows five changes to the side that beat Ireland in last year’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final.

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Huw Bennett is set to win his 50th Wales cap, making him only the second hooker to do so after Garin Jenkins.

The Welsh matchday squad features no debutants in its ranks but has three players who will make their second appearance for their country.

Saracens prop Rhys Gill comes into the side for the injured Gethin Jenkins (knee), after winning his other cap two years ago against Ireland at Croke Park.

Blues winger Alex Cuthbert, who made his debut against Australia before Christmas, makes his first start profiting from the retirement of Shane Williams, with Scarlets winger George North switching flanks to wear the number 11 jersey.

The third player with a single cap to his name is Scarlets hooker Ken Owens, who starts on the bench after making his debut at the World Cup against Namibia.

Jenkins, fellow front rower Matthew Rees (calf) and flanker Dan Lydiate (ankle) were unavailable for selection due to injury.

“We have been able to retain continuity in some key areas, we have been working hard and we feel we are approaching this match with the right attitude and with some good preparation work done,” explained head coach Gatland.

“We are two sides who know each other well. Ireland will not have enjoyed losing to us in New Zealand, they will want to redress the balance in Dublin this weekend, but they will find us in just as determined mood.”

WALES Team & Replacements (v Ireland, 2012 RBS 6 Nations Championship, Aviva Stadium, Sunday, February 5, kick-off 3pm):

15 – Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues)
14 – Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues)
13 – Jonathan Davies (Scarlets)
12 – Jamie Roberts (Cardiff Blues)
11 – George North (Scarlets)
10 – Rhys Priestland (Scarlets)
9 – Mike Phillips (Bayonne)
1 – Rhys Gill (Saracens)
2 – Huw Bennett (Ospreys)
3 – Adam Jones (Ospreys)
4 – Bradley Davies (Cardiff Blues)
5 – Ian Evans (Ospreys)
6 – Ryan Jones (Ospreys)
7 – Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues) (capt)
8 – Toby Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons)


16 – Ken Owens (Scarlets)
17 – Paul James (Ospreys)
18 – Andy Powell (Sale Sharks)
19 – Justin Tipuric (Ospreys)
20 – Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues)
21 – James Hook (Perpignan)
22 – Scott Williams (Scarlets)