Warburton back for Wales


Captain Sam Warburton, prop Gethin Jenkins and lock Andrew Coombs come into Wales’ starting line-up for Saturday’s Six Nations game against Ireland.
They come into the side at the expense of Justin Tipuric, Paul James and Luke Charteris in the three changes made to the side from the 23-15 victory over Italy.
Tipuric and James drop to the bench while Charteris is out with a hamstring injury.
Talking of the decision to bring his captain back into the starting line-up, Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland said: “With luck we’ve got two very good sevens. Justin [Tipuric] is an excellent seven and he’s on the bench as well.”
Jenkins is set to win his 102nd cap, which would leave him only two behind record cap-holder Stephen Jones.
He returns to the starting line-up after replacement prop Paul James failed to impress against Italy, conceding three penalties – the most by any Welshman on Saturday.
Both Warburton and Jenkins are known for their ability at the breakdown, an area where Ireland have traditionally posed a real threat.
“They’re bringing some experience and we know it’s going to be pretty physical up front,” said Gatland. “It’s going to be a tough physical game.”
Warburton came off the bench for a 16-minute cameo against the Italians and takes the captaincy away from stand-in captain Alun Wyn Jones, who skippered the side against the Italians.
When asked about the rousing reception he received coming on against Italy, Warburton said: “It was quite overwhelming to be honest. It was very strange having that many people backing you.”
Jonathan Davies returned to the squad this week but has not been deemed fit enough even to make the bench so Scott Williams keeps his place alongside Jamie Roberts at centre.
Dan Biggar misses out on the 23-man squad once again for the trip to Ireland as James Hook’s flexibility is once again favoured for the bench.
The Scarlets’ second-row Jake Ball is also named on the bench and could come on to make his debut at the Aviva on Saturday.
Leigh Halfpenny is set to make his 50th appearance for the national side on Saturday aged only 25-years-old, and prop James could join him in achieving a half-century of caps if he appears off the bench.
Wales’ starting line-up to face Ireland: Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, Scott Williams, Jamie Roberts, George North; Rhys Priestland, Mike Phillips; Gethin Jenkins, Richard Hibbard, Adam Jones, Andrew Coombs, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton (capt.), Taulupe Faletau.
Replacements: Ken Owens, Paul James, Rhodri Jones, Jake Ball, Justin Tipuric, Rhys Webb, James Hook, Liam Williams.