Captain Warburton returns to starting line-up for Wales
Captain Sam Warburton will return to the Wales starting line-up for Saturday’s Six Nations Championship clash against Ireland in Dublin.
The flanker came on as a replacement in the second half of last week’s 23-15 victory over Italy in Cardiff after having been out since November because of a shoulder injury picked up against Australia.
Justin Tipuric moves to the bench on Saturday.
Warburton is one of three changes to the pack. Lock Andrew Coombs partners Alun Wyn Jones in place of Luke Charteris, who has a hamstring injury, while prop Gethin Jenkins replaces Paul James in the front row.
“It’s great to bring Sam and Gethin back into the side and it’s a good opportunity for Andrew Coombs to start as well,” coach Warren Gatland told the Welsh Rugby Union website.
“Last weekend was a good hit-out for a lot of reasons but we still have things to work on and we know how important this game is.”
Scott Williams, who scored the second Welsh try just before the break in Cardiff, retains his position in an unchanged backline.
That means there is no place for Jonathan Davies who played 40 minutes for his club side Scarlets on Saturday, his first appearance since sustaining a chest injury in November.
Wales are aiming to become the first team to win three consecutive Six Nations titles outright.
They have not lost an away match in the tournament since 2011 but the Dublin clash will be a stern test of their ambitions, having lost to the Irish in Cardiff in the opening match of their last campaign.
Ireland beat Scotland 28-6 on Sunday.
“It’s going to be tough. Both sides won their opening game. We will have to be physical and take it to them,” Gatland said.
“We feel in most tournaments we get stronger as it goes on and that will need to be the case this weekend.”
Fullback Leigh Halfpenny will win his 50th cap, as will James if he comes off the bench.
Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert, Scott Williams, Jamie Roberts, George North, Rhys Priestland, Mike Phillips; Taulupe Faletau, Sam Warburton (captain), Dan Lydiate, Alun Wyn Jones, Andrew Coombs, Adam Jones, Richard Hibbard, Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: Ken Owens, Paul James, Rhodri Jones, Jake Ball, Justin Tipuric, Rhys Webb, James Hook, Liam Williams.