After winning his first 35 caps on the wing, where he has scored 17 tries, Josh Adams will make his first Test start at outside centre as part of a reshuffled Welsh backline for their opening 2022 Six Nations game against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
Adams had been selected to play there in the November Test against Fiji before being injured in the warm-up and he recently had a cameo there for Cardiff against Toulouse. Wayne Pivac’s decision to switch Adams accommodates the return of their New Zealand-born outside back on the right wing, Johnny McNicholl, and may also have been partly based on the hamstring strain which rendered Willis Halaholo doubtful.
Louis Rees-Zammit switches from the right to the left wing, but for all their injury woes, Pivac makes only two changes in personnel to the starting XV from their last outing, a 29-28 win over Australia in November. The other change sees Will Rowlands restored to the secondrow alongside Adam Beard, who started all four of Wales’ Autumn Series games, in an otherwise unchanged pack.
Ross Moriarty is named in the matchday 23 after returning from injury - but Ellis Jenkins retains his place on the blindside.
Captain Dan Biggar will again be partnered by with Tomos Williams at halfback. Ryan Elias starts his fifth consecutive match for Wales at hooker and lines up alongside Wyn Jones and Tomas Francis, while Taine Basham - their standout player of the autumn, makes his Six Nations debut alongside Jenkins and Aaron Wainwright in the backrow.
The dynamic young Ospreys hooker Dewi Lake is in line to win his first cap as a replacement, and Gareth Thomas would join Basham in making his Six Nations debut if appearing from the bench.
Dillon Lewis and Seb Davies complete the forward cover, while Gareth Davies, Callum Sheedy and Owen Watkin, who returns to the Wales matchday squad for the first time since playing against Scotland in last year’s Championship, provide the backline cover.
Pivac said: “We’ve selected Josh Adams at 13. It’s something we’ve been thinking about for a while. He’s done it in training and in small doses at the end of a game. We think this is a golden opportunity to answer that question.
“Really pleased for Ross. He’s wrapped to be back in the matchday 23 and I think it’s just really around game time at the moment. We think coming off the bench he’ll make an impact, so that’s why we’ve gone that way.
“Really happy for Dewi. He’s a big man, a very good rugby player. Strong over the ball and gives us something in defence as well as his attacking prowess.
“History in Dublin, it’s a hard place to go. There have been some great games in recent years against Ireland.
“They’re a very, very tough, very physical side. So we know we’re going to have to step up in that area of the game and make sure we do that for 80 mins. We’ve got to be very disciplined and as a result be in there fighting for the right result.”
WALES: Liam Williams; Johnny McNicholl, Josh Adams, Nick Tompkins, Louis Rees-Zammit; Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams; Wyn Jones, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis; Will Rowlands, Adam Beard; Ellis Jenkins, Taine Basham, Aaron Wainwright.
Replacements: Dewi Lake, Gareth Thomas, Dillon Lewis, Seb Davies, Ross Moriarty, Gareth Davies, Callum Sheedy, Owen Watkin.