Ken and Leigh named in Wales team to face Ireland

Rob LloydNews

Ken Owens will lead Wales into the 2023 Guinness Six Nations after being named as captain for the tournament opener against Ireland on Saturday (KO 2.15pm live on BBC and S4C).

The Scarlets hooker is joined in the starting line-up by club-mate Leigh Halfpenny, who is set to make his first Wales start since the summer of 2021.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland said:  “Ireland are the number one team in the world, so they’re going to be coming here with a lot of confidence. You don’t become the number one team in the world without having some pretty consistent performances. We know how good they are and we’re expecting a really tough contest. It’s important for us that we start well, but we need to be in the game at the last 20 minutes.

“We’ve only had a couple of weeks together but I’m confident that the guys will go out and give a good account of themselves. They’re pretty excited about playing this first game at home.”

Wales senior men’s team to play Ireland in the Guinness Six Nations, Saturday, February 4 (KKO 2.15pm GMT. Live on BBC and S4C)

15. Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets – 97 caps); 14. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby – 43 caps),  13. George North (Ospreys – 109 caps), 12. Joe Hawkins (Ospreys – 1 cap), 11. Rio Dyer (Dragons – 3 caps); 10. Dan Biggar (Toulon – 103 caps), 9. Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 40 caps); 1. Gareth Thomas (Ospreys – 17 caps), 2. Ken Owens (Scarlets – 86 caps) captain, 3. Tomas Francis (Ospreys – 67 caps), 4. Adam Beard (Ospreys – 41 caps), 5. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys – 155 caps), 6. Jac Morgan (Ospreys – 6 caps), 7. Justin Tipuric (Ospreys – 89 caps), 8. Taulupe Faletau (Cardiff Rugby – 95 caps).

Replacements: 16. Scott Baldwin (Ospreys – 34 caps), 17. Rhys Carre (Cardiff Rugby – 17 caps), 18. Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Rugby – 45 caps), 19. Dafydd Jenkins (Exeter Chiefs – 1 cap), 20. Tommy Reffell (Leicester Tigers – 4 caps), 21. Rhys Webb (Ospreys – 36 caps), 22. Owen Williams (Ospreys – 3 caps), 23. Alex Cuthbert (Ospreys – 55 caps).