A sarcastic Andy Farrell has responded to Warren Gatland by saying the only “free shot” the returning Wales coach will receive is the drink his Irish counterpart will buy him after Saturday’s Six Nations opener.
Tadhg Furlong missed the Cardiff clash because of a calf injury, but Farrell maintained his sense of humour despite his absence.
Farrell responded to Gatland’s attempt to place all the pressure on the world’s No. 1 team: “A free shot in Test match rugby? Where do you get those? I’ll buy him one after the game.”.
We are very aware that Warren will expect his team to win, and I also expect our team to win. His past record shows what he is all about in this competition. Finding a way to win has always been key for those teams.”
It has been ten years since Ireland won the Six Nations in Cardiff, but Farrell changed the nation’s normal policy there and agreed to have the roof closed to show how confident a side is after beating New Zealand, South Africa and Australia last year.
“We had to agree that it would be closed, but we wanted it to sample the atmosphere and continue on our journey,” he added.
For the visit of France next weekend, Farrell has brought in Connacht’s Finlay Bealham to cover for Furlong.
Liam Williams, who has played only 180 minutes of rugby this season, fills in at full-back for Wales as Leigh Halfpenny pulled out due to a back spasm.
When and where is Wales v Ireland?
On Saturday, February 4, Wales will play Ireland at 2.15pm at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff. Other matches that weekend are Italy vs France at 3pm and England vs Scotland at 4.45pm.
What TV channel is Wales v Ireland on?
Wales vs Ireland will be shown on the BBC.
What happened in this fixture in 2022?
It was Ireland’s ninth consecutive Test win when they wiped out their visitors at Aviva Stadium last year, barely breaking sweat in a comprehensive defeat of defending champions Wales. In their largest defeat of the competition, the visitors had to wait 73 minutes for their first point.
For the sixth time in the history of the championship, Ireland won the Triple Crown.
What is the latest team news?
Wales coach Jonathan Humphreys said Leigh [Halfpenny] had a back spasm this morning and Liam [Williams] would play. “I think it’s more disappointing for him as a person. He’s had a couple of these recently. He’s an incredible professional and an unbelievable person. He needs to pick himself up again. “You feel for him that he has to pull out at this late stage again.”
Wales team to play Ireland
Backs: 15-Liam Williams, 14-Josh Adams, 13-George North, 12-Joe Hawkins, 11-Rio Dyer, 10-Dan Biggar, 9-Tomos Williams. Forwards: 1-Gareth Thomas, 2-Ken Owens (captain), 3-Tomas Francis, 4-Adam Beard, 5-Alun Wyn Jones, 6-Jac Morgan, 7-Justin Tipuric, 8-Taulupe Falet.
(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Ken Ferris) Replacements: 16-Scott Baldwin, 17.-Rhys Carre, 18-Dillon Lewis, 19-Dafydd Jenkins, 20-Tommy Reffell, 21-Rhys Webb, 22-Owen Williams, 23-Alex Cuthbert.
Andy Farrell’s maiden selection of the tournament contains no surprises except for Furlong’s injury (see above).
Seven years after making his Test debut, Stuart McCloskey will play in the championship for the first time. After impressing in November’s victories over South Africa, Fiji and Australia, the Ulster player has retained the number 12 jersey ahead of Bundee Aki to continue his midfield partnership with Garry Ringrose. At Twickenham in 2016, he won his only previous appearance in the tournament and won the first of his nine caps to date.
After missing the autumn campaign due to a calf injury, James Lowe returns on the left wing and captain Johnny Sexton is back at fly-half after recovering from a cheekbone injury. As half-back, Sexton will be partnered by Leinster teammate Jamison Gibson-Park, while Mack Hansen will play the right wing and Hugo Keenan will play as full-back.
Munster’s Tadhg Beirne has been chosen ahead of the returning Iain Henderson, who is included amongst the replacements. This settled forward pack sees Dan Sheehan flanked by Andrew Porter and Bealham, whilst Josh Van Der Flier and Peter O’Mahony will provide support for Caelan Doris in the back line. Ross Byrne has been given the nod as back-up for Sexton, with Aki – absent since December 23 due to suspension and removal from Connacht – completing the bench alongside O’Toole, Henderson, Herring, Healy, Conan and Murray.
Ireland team to play Wales
Among the backs are H Keenan (Leinster); M Hansen (Connacht), G Ringrose (Leinster), S McCloskey (Ulster), J Lowe (Leinster); J Sexton (Leinster), and J Gibson Park (Leinster). A Porter (Leinster), D Sheehan (Leinster), F Bealham (Connacht); T Beirne (Munster), J Ryan (Leinster); P O’Mahony (Munster), J van der Flier (Leinster), C Doris (Leinster)
The replacements are: R Herring (Ulster), C Healy (Leinster), T O’Toole (Ulster), I Henderson (Ulster), J Conan (Leinster), C Murray (Munster), R Byrne (Leinster), B Aki (Connacht).
Who is the referee?
- Referee: Karl Dickson (RFU)
- Assistant Referee 1: Angus Gardner (RA)
- Assistant Referee 2: Luke Pearce (RFU)
- TMO: Tom Foley (RFU)
Wales v Ireland latest odds
- Wales 2/1
- Ireland 2/5
- Draw 20/1
What is prediction?
Gatland’s ability to galvanize Wales will spark a dogged effort, while Ireland should have enough quality and cohesion to score tries.