Wales recall veteran for season-opener
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Wales named their team to face Ireland in their opening match of the Six Nations, in Cardiff on Sunday.
Ospreys flank Dan Lydiate will make his first start for Wales since November 2018.
Lydiate makes up an all British & Irish Lions back row – alongside Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau.
Captain Alun Wyn Jones will partner the returning Adam Beard in the second row.
Ken Owens returns to the side after missing the year-end campaign due to injury and lines up alongside Wyn Jones and Tomas Francis in the front row.
Tomos Williams will make his first appearance since last year’s tournament after injury and partners Dan Biggar at halfback.
Johnny Williams partners George North in the centre, with North winning his 99th Wales cap.
The back-three comprises of Hallam Amos, Louis Rees-Zammit and Leigh Halfpenny.
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“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.”
Elliot Dee, Rhodri Jones and Leon Brown provide the front row cover for Wales with Will Rowlands and Josh Navidi completing the forward contingent.
Gareth Davies, Callum Sheedy and Nick Tompkins provide the backline cover.
Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 George North, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 Josh Navidi, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Callum Sheedy, 23 Nick Tompkins.
Date: Sunday, February 7
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 15.00 (15.00 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Luke Pearce (England), Alex Ruiz (France)
TMO: Tom Foley (England)