Wales v Ireland: Captain Alun Wyn Jones back for Six Nations opener


Breaking news

Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Sunday, 7 February Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC iPlayer & Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Sport website and app, S4C. Highlights, Scrum V, BBC Two Wales from 19:00 GMT on Sunday

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones has been passed fit to lead his side into the Six Nations opener against Ireland.

Flanker Dan Lydiate plays his first international for more than two years and second-row Adam Beard also returns.

Gloucester wing Louis Rees-Zammit will make his tournament debut with Hallam Amos also recalled.

George North will continue in the centre and win his 99th Wales cap with British and Irish Lion Jonathan Davies missing.

Cardiff Blues scrum-half Tomos Williams is handed a starting spot ahead of Gareth Davies after missing the autumn campaign through injury and partners Dan Biggar. Josh Navidi is named on the bench after recovering from concussion.

World record cap holder Jones damaged his knee against Italy on 5 December in the Autumn Nations Cup and was initially expected to miss the start of the Six Nations tournament.

The 35-year-old has recovered and will pack down alongside fellow Ospreys lock Beard who was left out of the autumn squad.

Scarlets captain Ken Owens also returns at hooker after missing the autumn campaign because of a shoulder injury.

Lydiate, 33, will play his 65th Wales test and make his first international appearance since November 2018 by linking up with Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau in the back-row.

Pivac was forced into a backline selection change after wing Josh Adams was suspended for the first two matches because of a Covid-19 breach.

North started at 13 in the Autumn Nations Cup win against Italy where he played alongside Jonathan Davies, who was a late starting replacement for calf injury victim Johnny Williams who is fit again.

Davies is himself injured now with an ankle problem so North and Williams form the centre partnership.

With Liam Williams also banned, Rees-Zammit will make his Six Nations debut after winning his first cap against France in a friendly in October 2020 and starting against England, Georgia and Italy in the Autumn Nations Cup.

Amos, 26, last played for Wales in the World Cup bronze medal match defeat against New Zealand in November 2019.

“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.

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

“The Six Nations is a fantastic tournament and is important for us rugby wise but it is important for so much more this year.

“It is important for communities across the country and we want to play our part and give everyone something to look forward to and to get excited about on the weekend.”

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny; Louis Rees-Zammit, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hallam Amos; Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Dan Lydiate, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Rhodri Jones, Leon Brown, Will Rowlands, Josh Navidi, Gareth Davies, Callum Sheedy, Nick Tompkins.

BBC News