Adams named in the centres as Wales begin title defence

Josh Adams 2000
Josh Adams is set to start in the centres for Wales as they begin the defence of the Guinness Six Nations crown away to Ireland on Saturday.

Josh Adams is set to start in the centres for Wales as they begin the defence of the Guinness Six Nations crown away to Ireland on Saturday.

The Cardiff Rugby winger had been due to wear the No.13 jersey in the Autumn Nations Series against Fiji before having to withdraw at the last minute, but will make his first Test start in the midfield this weekend instead.

Wales, captained for the first time by Dan Biggar in the absence of the injured Alun Wyn Jones, have named 13 of the players who beat Australia in their last match in November, with Adams’ move allowing Johnny McNicholl to come in for the injured Willis Halaholo, while Will Rowlands gets the nod at lock ahead of Seb Davies.

McNicholl joins Liam Williams and Louis Rees-Zammit in the back three, while Adams will partner Nick Tompkins in the centres.

Biggar and Tomos Williams make up the half-back pairing while Wyn Jones, Ryan Elias and Tomas Francis form an experienced front row.

Rowlands and new vice-captain Adam Beard will combine in the second row, while Ellis Jenkins, Taine Basham and Aaron Wainwright round out the team.

Uncapped hooker Dewi Lake is in line for his Test bow after being named on the bench, with Gareth Davies and Callum Sheedy also waiting in the wings, as well as fit-again Ross Moriarty.

Wales head coach Pivac said: “We’ve selected Josh Adams at 13. It’s something we’ve been thinking about for a while. He’s done it in training and in small doses at the end of a game. We think this is a golden opportunity to answer that question.

“Really happy for Dewi. He’s a big man, a very good rugby player. Strong over the ball and gives us something in defence as well as his attacking prowess.

“History in Dublin, it’s a hard place to go. There have been some great games in recent years against Ireland.

“They’re a very, very tough, very physical side. So we know we’re going to have to step up in that area of the game and make sure we do that for 80 mins. We’ve got to be very disciplined and as a result be in there fighting for the right result.”

Wales senior men’s team to face Ireland (Saturday 5 February, KO 2.15pm. Live on ITV and S4C)

15. Liam Williams (Scarlets – 74 caps) 14. Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets – 8 caps) 13. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby – 35 caps) 12. Nick Tompkins (Saracens – 16 caps) 11. Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby – 12 caps) 10. Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints – 95 caps), captain 9. Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 29 caps)

1. Wyn Jones (Scarlets – 38 caps) 2. Ryan Elias (Scarlets – 23 caps) 3. Tomas Francis (Ospreys – 60 caps) 4. Will Rowlands (Dragons – 13 caps) 5. Adam Beard (Ospreys – 29 caps), vice-captain 6. Ellis Jenkins (Cardiff Rugby – 14 caps) 7. Taine Basham (Dragons – 7 caps) 8. Aaron Wainwright (Dragons – 34 caps)

Replacements 16. Dewi Lake (Ospreys – uncapped) 17. Gareth Thomas (Ospreys – 5 caps) 18. Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Rugby – 34 caps) 19. Seb Davies (Cardiff Rugby – 13 caps) 20. Ross Moriarty (Dragons – 49 caps) 21. Gareth Davies (Scarlets – 65 caps) 22. Callum Sheedy (Bristol Bears – 13 caps) 23. Owen Watkin (Ospreys – 26 caps)