Rugby-Lydiate back for Wales after two-year absence

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FILE PHOTO: Wales v New Zealand - Dove Men Series

CARDIFF (Reuters) - Wales have restored former British and Irish Lion Dan Lydiate to their team for their Six Nations opener against Ireland in Cardiff on Sunday, as well as bringing back Adam Beard, Ken Owens and Tomos Williams.

Suspension and injury also mean a shuffle in the backrow that has George North moved to centre for his 99th Wales cap.

The 33-year-old Lydiate makes his first start for Wales since November 2018, in an all Lions back-row alongside Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau.

Beard returns to the second-row to partner captain Alun Wyn Jones while Owens is back in the front row after missing the autumn campaign due to injury.

Tomos Williams was also injured for much of last year but is back to partner Dan Biggar at halfback.

Only four players remain from the starting line-up for Wales' last test, a 38-18 win over Italy in Llanelli at the end of the Autumn Nations Cup in early December.

They must do without fullback Liam Williams, serving the last of a three-match ban incurred when red carded playing for the Scarlets against Cardiff Blues in the PRO14 competition, and Josh Adams, suspended for the opening two Six Nations game because he breached COVID-19 protocols.

Hallam Amos comes in at wing for Adams while North switches inside and will be along Johnny Williams in the centre. Leigh Halfpenny plays at fullback.

"We are looking forward to kicking off our campaign this weekend and putting into action two really good training weeks," said Wales head coach Wayne Pivac as he named the team on Friday.

"We made strides forward through the autumn and we are looking to take that into Sunday and into this tournament.”

Team:

1. Wyn Jones (30 Caps)

2. Ken Owens (77 Caps)

3. Tomas Francis (52 Caps)

4. Adam Beard (21 Caps)

5. Alun Wyn Jones (C) (143 Caps)

6. Dan Lydiate (64 Caps)

7. Justin Tipuric (80 Caps)

8. Taulupe Faletau (81 Caps)

9. Tomos Williams (20 Caps)

10. Dan Biggar (87 Caps)

11. Hallam Amos (22 Caps)

12. Johnny Williams (2 Caps)

13. George North (98 Caps)

14. Louis Rees-Zammit (4 Caps)

15. Leigh Halfpenny (93 Caps)

Replacements:

16. Elliot Dee (33 Caps)

17. Rhodri Jones (17 Caps)

18. Leon Brown (12 Caps)

19. Will Rowlands (5 Caps)

20. Josh Navidi (24 Caps)

21. Gareth Davies (57 Caps)

22. Callum Sheedy (4 Caps)

23. Nick Tompkins (8 Caps)

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Toby Davis and Christian Radnedge)