Six Nations: Wales 15 Liam Williams fit to face Ireland
Warren Gatland has named an unchanged starting XV for Saturday’s clash inn Cardiff
Liam Williams is fit to face Ireland on Saturday. Photograph: Ian MacNicol/Getty
Fullback Williams went off during the 18-11 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield last weekend after suffering a ‘stinger’ to his shoulder area.
But the Saracens star has been named in an unchanged team by head coach Warren Gatland as unbeaten Wales chase a first Six Nations title since 2013 and first Grand Slam for seven years.
There are three survivors in Gatland’s starting line-up from the Grand Slam clincher against France in 2012 — captain Alun Wyn Jones, wing George North and centre Jonathan Davies.
But it will be a new experience for a number of other key performers — players like wing Josh Adams, who has scored three tries in his last three Six Nations games, outhalf Gareth Anscombe, flanker Josh Navidi and number eight Ross Moriarty.
Gatland, meanwhile, will oversee his 50th Six Nations match and skipper Jones equals prop Gethin Jenkins’s appearance record for Wales and the British and Irish Lions of 134 Tests.
Ireland will win the Six Nations if they defeat Wales in Cardiff and Scotland beat England at Twickenham on Saturday. They were also the last side to topple Gatland’s men 13 months ago.
Since then, Wales have embarked on a national record 13 successive Test wins, and Gatland is bidding to become the first coach in Five or Six Nations history to mastermind three Grand Slam triumphs.
During his reign, Wales achieved clean sweeps in 2008 and 2012, and it is the New Zealander’s final Six Nations match before he leaves his post after the World Cup in Japan later this year.
Gatland has also retained the replacements’ bench personnel selected for Edinburgh, with a fit-again Leigh Halfpenny missing out on a first Test match involvement since he suffered concussion when Wales beat Australia in November.
“We’ve named an unchanged squad and rewarded the players for the last couple of outings and the last couple of victories,” Gatland said.
Gatland added: “These players are on a very good run, they are a hugely impressive group and they deserve to be going into the final weekend with everything to play for.
“It is a great reward for them for the hard work they have put in, and we are all looking forward to what is going to be a huge game.
“For a number of us as coaches this is our last Six Nations game, and the fact that it is in Cardiff is extra special. There is bound to be a bit of emotion on Saturday, and that is something to embrace.”
Wales: Liam Williams; George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams; Gareth Anscombe, Gareth Davies; Rob Evans, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis; Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones; Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty. Replacements: Elliot Dee, Nicky Smith, Dillon Lewis, Jake Ball, Aaron Wainwright, Aled Davies, Dan Biggar, Owen Watkin.