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Josh Adams switches position for Wales opener against Ireland

By PA
(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

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Wing Josh Adams will make his first Test match appearance in the centre when Wales launch their Guinness Six Nations Championship title defence against Ireland on Saturday.

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Adams, who has won 35 caps and was top try-scorer at the 2019 World Cup, would have featured there in the Autumn Nations Series appointment with Fiji this season, but he suffered an injury during the warm-up and did not start.

Saracens’ Nick Tompkins will partner Adams in midfield, while there are also starts for wing Johnny McNicholl and flanker Taine Basham, with uncapped Ospreys hooker Dewi Lake among the replacements.

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Flanker Ross Moriarty, who has recovered from a shoulder injury suffered against New Zealand in October, is also on the bench and poised to win his 50th cap.

But there is no place in the matchday 23 for centre Jonathan Davies, who has made 99 Test match appearances for Wales and the British and Irish Lions.

Fly-half Dan Biggar skippers the team as Wales start the tournament without world record Test match appearance holder Alun Wyn Jones.

Jones is among a number of British and Irish Lions currently out injured, being joined by fellow key personnel such as George North, Leigh Halfpenny, Ken Owens, Justin Tipuric and Josh Navidi.

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Wales have claimed a solitary victory from their last seven visits to the Aviva Stadium, and they will encounter an Ireland side fresh from toppling New Zealand just over two months ago.

On Adams’ midfield selection, Wales head coach Wayne Pivac said: “It is something we’ve been thinking about for a while.

“He has 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.

“I am really pleased for Ross. We think coming off the bench he will make an impact, so that is why we’ve gone that way.

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“Dewi is a big man, a very good rugby player. He is strong over the ball and gives us something in defence as well as his attacking prowess.

“History in Dublin shows it’s a hard place to go.

“They are a very tough, very physical side, so we know we are going to have to step up in that area of the game and make sure we do that for 80 minutes.

“We’ve got to be very disciplined, and as a result be in there fighting for the right result.”

WALES TEAM:
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)

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