Key players fit for Ireland and Wales
October 6, 2011
Shane Williams returns to Wales' starting XV for the showdown with Ireland © Getty Images
Rory Best Cian Healy James Hook Dan Lydiate Conor Murray Sean O'Brien Brian O'Driscoll Ronan O'Gara Sam Warburton Shane Williams
Wales welcome back key quartet Shane Williams, Jonathan Davies, Dan Lydiate and Alun Wyn Jones for their quarter-final showdown with Ireland.
Shane Williams and Lydiate return from injury to take their places on the wing and blindside flank respectively while Davies replaces Scott Williams at outside centre and Wyn Jones regains a starting berth alongside Luke Charteris at lock.
James Hook also returns from injury but he has to make do with a place on the bench with Leigh Halfpenny retained in the starting XV and shifting to fullback. George North lines up on the right wing with Shane Williams on the left.
Flanker Ryan Jones drops down to the bench to make way for Lydiate, who joins captain Sam Warburton and Toby Faletau in Wales' first-choice back-row. The front-row of Gethin Jenkins, Huw Bennett and Adam Jones is retained as are Mike Phillips and Rhys Priestland at half-back.
Ronan O'Gara and Conor Murray are again entrusted with the half-back roles for Ireland with Jonathan Sexton and Eoin Reddan waiting on the bench.
Ireland's solitary injury concern is at hooker with Rory Best being given every chance to prove his fitness ahead of the game. Should Best fail to recover from a sprained AC join on his right shoulder, Sean Cronin will step into the starting XV with Damien Varley ready to cover from the bench.
Elsewhere, Ireland's key combinations at lock, back-row and in the midfield remain intact.
Ireland: R Kearney; T Bowe, B O'Driscoll (capt), G D'Arcy, K Earls; R O'Gara, C Murray; C Healy, R Best or S Cronin, M Ross, D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell, S Ferris, S O'Brien, J Heaslip.
Replacements: S Cronin or D Varley, T Court, D Ryan, D Leamy, E Reddan, J Sexton, A Trimble.
Wales: L Halfpenny; G North, J Davies, J Roberts, S Williams; R Priestland, M Phillips; G Jenkins, H Bennett, A Jones, L Charteris, A-W Jones, D Lydiate, S Warburton (capt), T Faletau.
Replacements: L Burns, P James, B Davies, R Jones, L Williams, J Hook, S Williams.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September