Wales back to full strength ahead of Ireland encounter in Dublin

Warren Gatland will have a full hand to pick from for Saturday’s Six Nations clash

Wales have been bolstered by the return to fitness of five of their Lions for Saturday's Six Nations clash with Ireland in Dublin.

The wings Liam Williams and George North were not considered match-fit for the defeat to England last time out but have each played two matches for their clubs.

Fullback Leigh Halfpenny, who pulled out of the Twickenham game on the eve of the match with a foot infection, outhalf Dan Biggar, who sustained a shoulder injury before the tournament, and number eight Taulupe Faletau, who sustained knee damage playing for Bath in December, have also been passed fit.

Faletau may be released back to Bath because he lacks match fitness having made four starts since the end of October, but Biggar will push hard for a starting place while at least two out of Halfpenny, Williams and North are likely to be named in the team given the strength of Ireland’s kicking game.

“It is good to have everyone back with a spring in their step and nice to have headaches in a few positions and plenty of options to choose from,” the Wales forwards coach, Robin McBryde, said. “There is a competitive edge to the squad and it will be a tough call on a few individuals.”

Wales fielded a raw back three against England and lost the kicking battle and the debate in selection on Monday night centred on whether to see what they had learned, along with the outhalf Rhys Patchell who commanded close attention at Twickenham after playing an influential role in the victory over Scotland, or to go for experience given the need for victory.

"It is a must-win game for us," McBryde said. "We have had success in Dublin before and can draw on those experiences, although each Six Nations has its own different set of circumstances as well as players. We have scrummaged intelligently in the tournament and applied pressure in the lineout, but we have to deliver the ball on a plate for the backs." – Guardian service