Preview: Wales v Ireland
WORLD CUP WARM-UP: Wales and Ireland move into the stage of their preparations for the global showpiece when they face off in Cardiff on Saturday.
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt responded to a record 57-15 loss to England at Twickenham by making 12 changes to his side for Saturday’s clash.
However, Schmidt branded the criticism of veteran captain Rory Best as “unfair” and added the Ulster hooker to the bench for this weekend at his request.
Best and prop Tadhg Furlong were due to be rested, but Schmidt admitted both asked for extra game time to push themselves back up to top match sharpness.
“They were very keen to get back in and get back involved, they felt they were just a bit off last week,” said Schmidt.
“They felt that it would help them in their preparation if they got a little bit more time this week.
“We’re looking at them getting 25 to 30 minutes as the plan. That can springboard them into next week and beyond if they are selected.
“Rory felt he was underdone, and didn’t have the energy in his legs.”
"It's a fantastic chance for them to put their hand up for selection."Warren Gatland discusses today's team announcement for Saturday's meeting with Ireland.
Posted by The Welsh Rugby Union on Thursday, 29 August 2019
Johnny Sexton again misses out as Jack Carty starts at flyhalf, with a big opportunity to push ahead of Ross Byrne as back-up to Sexton and Joey Carbery, who faces a race against time to be fit for the start of the World Cup.
Wales coach Warren Gatland has made 14 changes to the team that beat England 13-6 at the Principality Stadium on August 17 to move to world number one, with wing Owen Lane and prop Rhys Carre making their debuts.
Fullback Hallam Amos, centre Scott Williams, flyhalf Jarrod Evans and hooker Ryan Elias have all been given a chance to prove their worth ahead of Gatland announcing his 31-man World Cup squad on Sunday.
The 21-year-old Carre is regarded as one of the most promising young players in the game and was signed by English and European champions Saracens from Cardiff earlier this year.
Saturday’s match will be Gatland’s last home match in charge of Wales before the New Zealander steps down after Japan 2019.
“It is a great opportunity for Rhys and Owen,” said Gatland.
“They have worked hard all summer to get to this point, so it will be good for them to get their first international caps and put their hands up for World Cup selection after the match.”
The former Ireland coach added: “There is so much at stake in terms of World Cup selection and – with a number of positions still up for grabs – it will be a huge game.”
2019: Wales won 25-7, Cardiff
2018: Ireland won 37-27, Dublin
2017: Wales won 22-9, Cardiff
2016: Wales and Ireland drew 16-all, Dublin
2015: Wales won 16-10, Dublin
2015: Ireland won 35-21, Cardiff
2015: Wales won 23-16, Cardiff
2014: Ireland won 26-3, Dublin
2013: Ireland won 30-22, Cardiff
2012: Wales won 23-21, Dublin
Prediction: Given the quality of the two teams’ selections, it is a surprise the bookmakers only make Ireland short-odds favourite. Perhaps it is because the game is being played in Cardiff. We also feel Ireland will win, but by at least 10 points.
Wales: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Josh Navidi (captain), 7 James Davies, 6 Aaron Shingler, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Bradley Davies, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Rhys Carre.
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Jonah Holmes.
Ireland: 15 Will Addison, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Peter O’Mahony, 6 Tadhg Beirne, 5 James Ryan, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Rory Best, 17 Andrew Porter, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Garry Ringrose, 23 Dave Kearney.
Date: Saturday, August 31
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 14.30 (13.30 GMT)
Expected weather: If the roof is closed this would have no influence. However, in case of an open roof – light rain and moderate winds. High of 18°C and a low of 10°C
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Jérôme Garcès (France), Karl Dickson (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)