Wales vs Ireland line-ups: Team news ahead of Six Nations fixture
Wales host Ireland at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff to kick off what promises to be an exciting Six Nations campaign.
The Welsh, buoyed by the return of Warren Gatland after a dismal 2022, hope they can pick up form ahead of the World Cup this year.
While the Irish enter this year’s tournament as the No 1 side in the world and eager to create yet more history as the favourites here and a serious contender in France come September.
The atmosphere promises to be electric in the first of a sensational double header as England host Scotland in the tea time match.
Here’s everything you need to know about the opener.
What is the team news?
Tadhg Furlong failed to recover in time from injury so Finlay Bealham will prop up Ireland against Wales. Furlong was coming back from an ankle issue when he hurt his calf in training last weekend. This will be the first Ireland game he’s around for and not started in two years. Coach Andy Farrell hoped the tighthead will be ready for next week against France. The inclusion of Bealham and captain Jonathan Sexton are the only changes to the 15 which started the last test of 2022, the 13-10 home win over Australia. Sexton was a late withdrawal and replaced by Jack Crowley, who made his first test start. Ross Byrne, who replaced Crowley, kicked the late winning penalty. Byrne was picked ahead of Crowley on an experienced bench which included Cian Healy, Iain Henderson, Conor Murray and Bundee Aki. Aki returned from suspension to come off the bench against the Wallabies, but Farrell has retained Stuart McCloskey in the midfield after he started all three autumn tests.
Wales had to make a change after Leigh Halfpenny had a back spasm on Thursday and was withdrawn. Liam Williams was parachuted into fullback from outside the team. Williams missed the autumn internationals because of a dislocated shoulder, and has not started for Wales since the June tour of South Africa. Halfpenny was due to win his 98th cap on Saturday and make a first Wales start for 19 months.
Wales vs Ireland starting line-ups
Wales XV: L Halfpenny (Scarlets); J Adams (Cardiff), G North (Ospreys), J Hawkins (Ospreys), R Dyer (Dragons); D Biggar (Toulon), T Williams (Cardiff); G Thomas (Ospreys), K Owens (Scarlets, capt), T Francis (Ospreys), A Beard (Ospreys), A W Jones (Ospreys), J Morgan (Ospreys), J Tipuric (Ospreys), T Faletau (Cardiff).
Replacements: S Baldwin (Ospreys), R Carre (Cardiff), D Lewis (Cardiff), D Jenkins (Exeter), T Reffell (Leicester), R Webb (Ospreys), O Williams (Ospreys), A Cuthbert (Ospreys).
Ireland XV: H Keenan (Leinster); M Hansen (Connacht), G Ringrose (Leinster), S McCloskey (Ulster), J Lowe (Leinster); J Sexton (Leinster, capt), J Gibson-Park (Leinster); A Porter (Leinster), D Sheehan (Leinster), F Bealham (Connacht), T Beirne (Munster), J Ryan (Leinster), P O’Mahony (Munster), J Van Der Flier (Leinster), C Doris (Leinster).
Replacements: R Herring (Ulster), C Healy (Leinster), T O’Toole (Ulster), I Henderson (Ulster), J Conan (Leinster), C Murray (Munster), R Byrne (Leinster), B Aki (Connacht).
When is Wales vs Ireland?
The match will kick off at 2:15pm on Saturday 4 February at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.
Where can I watch it?
Wales vs Ireland will be available free-to-air on BBC One and coverage starts at 1:15pm. Welsh-language coverage can be found on S4C from 1:30pm.
While a live stream is available on the BBC Sport website, BBC iPlayer and S4C Clic.