Halfpenny and Davies start for Wales
March 8, 2011
Cardiff Blues winger Leigh Halfpenny has been recalled to the Wales side for Saturday's clash with Ireland © Getty Images
Leigh Halfpenny and Jonathan Davies have both been recalled to the Wales starting line-up for Saturday's Six Nations meeting with Ireland in Cardiff.
Blues ace Halfpenny replaces Morgan Stoddart on the right wing, while Davies' return in midfield sees Jamie Roberts switch to outside centre and James Hook, who had been a doubt for the game with a calf problem, revert to fly-half at the expense of Stephen Jones. The pack is unchanged to the one which started against Italy last time out.
Meanwhile, there is a place for Sale Sharks scrum-half Dwayne Peel on the bench alongside Scarlets duo Jones and Stoddart. Wales head coach Warren Gatland will wait until Thursday before picking two from Rob McCusker, Andy Powell, Jonathan Thomas following further injury assessments.
"The forwards had a tough day at the office in Italy and we were not at our very best so we are looking for a step up in performance this weekend," Wales assistant coach (forwards) Robin McBryde said.
"Ireland will be tough, they have a well drilled set-piece game, are good around the field and are strong defensively. They bring intensity to the breakdown area which is always so crucial in these big games and it will be up to us to match them if we are going to be able to provide a platform for our exciting backs to play.
"The debate at fly-half will continue long after the Championship is over, but we have gone for James (Hook) on this occasion. James provides a running threat and we will be looking for him to show he can control the game as well and help us play in the right areas.
"Leigh (Halfpenny) had a good run out for the Blues at the weekend, we know all about his pace and what he offers around the field as well as being solid under the high ball and giving us a long range kicking option. Morgan (Stoddart) misses out, but he has done nothing wrong and we know he can be relied on if we need him from the bench.
"We also have a vast amount of experience in Stephen (Jones) and Dwayne (Peel) to call upon if necessary. Both have proved in the past that they can come on and make an impact and neither will let us down."
Wales: L Byrne (Ospreys); L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), J Davies (Scarlets), S Williams (Ospreys); J Hook (Ospreys), M Phillips (Ospreys); P James (Ospreys), M Rees (Scarlets, captain), C Mitchell (Ospreys); B Davies (Cardiff Blues), A-W Jones (Ospreys); D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues), R Jones (Ospreys).
Replacements: R Hibbard (Ospreys), J Yapp (Cardiff Blues), two from R McCusker (Scarlets), A Powell (London Wasps) and J Thomas (Ospreys), D Peel (Sale Sharks), S Jones (Scarlets), M Stoddart (Scarlets).
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