Six Nations 2020: Ireland v Wales - Wales player profiles

We look at Wayne Pivac’s defending champions ahead of Saturday’s date in Dublin

Josh Adams scored a hat-trick against Italy. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA

Josh Adams scored a hat-trick against Italy. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA

 

15 Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets)

Age: 31
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 81kg (12st, 8lbs)
Caps: 86

Any team in the world would miss the backfield X-factor which Liam Williams provides but Halfpenny is a fine alternative – supreme in the air, he seems to have rediscovered his attacking spark.

Leigh Halfpenny starts at fullback for Wales against Ireland. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty
Leigh Halfpenny starts at fullback for Wales against Ireland. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty

14 George North (Ospreys)

Age: 27
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 105kg (16st, 6lbs)
Caps: 92

North reverts back to his familiar wing berth after a brief stint in midfield. 42 tries in 92 Test matches by the age of 27 tell you all you need to know about Gorgeous George.

13 Nick Tompkins (Saracens)

Age: 24
Height: 6’
Weight: 93kg (14st, 7lbs)
Caps: 1

Tompkins makes his full Wales debut after scoring off the bench against Italy last week. A former England Under-20 player, he bids to plug the considerable gap left by the injured Jonathan Davies.

Nick Tompkins makes his full Wales debut against Ireland on Saturday. Photograph: Geoff Caddick/Getty/AFP
Nick Tompkins makes his full Wales debut against Ireland on Saturday. Photograph: Geoff Caddick/Getty/AFP

12 Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets)

Age: 32
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 101kg (15st, 10lbs)
Caps: 26

In another life, Parkes and Bundee Aki would have been competing for the All Blacks 12 shirt – instead they meet again in the Six Nations. Like his compatriot, he combines physicality with an unstoppable offload.

11 Josh Adams (Cardiff)

Age: 24
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 94kg (14st, 9lbs)
Caps: 22

The top try scorer at the Rugby World Cup and arguably the best winger on the planet, Adams is electric with the line in sight – as his hat-trick against Italy perfectly illustrated.

10 Dan Biggar (Northampton)

Age: 30
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 90kg (14st, 2lbs)
Caps: 80

Biggar’s durability and nerve make him one of the most underrated but dependable outhalves in the world. His ‘Carlos Spencer’ pass to set up Adams against Italy shows he’s also capable of the superlative.

9 Tomos Williams (Cardiff)

Age: 25
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 77kg (12st, 1lb)
Caps: 17

Williams’ snappy, impish performance against Italy was the antithesis of Conor Murray’s cumbersome showing against Scotland. His selection ahead of Gareth Davies and Rhys Webb emphasises shows how highly he is rated.

Tomos Williams retains his place ahead of Gareth Davies and Rhys Webb. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Tomos Williams retains his place ahead of Gareth Davies and Rhys Webb. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

1 Wyn Jones (Scarlets)

Age: 27
Height: 6’
Weight: 114kg (17st, 11lbs)
Caps: 23

The Welsh scrum struggled against Italy, with Luke Pearce awarding the Azzurri three penalties at the set-piece. Jones will need to tighten up against Tadhg Furlong.

2 Ken Owens (Scarlets)

Age: 33
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 112kg (17st, 7lbs)
Caps: 74

Owens’ lineout throwing wasn’t at its sharpest against Italy but he was his usual self otherwise – a hooker in the All Blacks mould, he tackles tirelessly and is comfortable on the ball.

3 Dillon Lewis (Cardiff)

Age: 24
Height: 6’
Weight: 118kg (18st, 7lbs)
Caps: 23

Lewis impressed during the World Cup and has started as first-choice tighthead with Tomas Francis injured – a mobile prop, he is facing an acid test against the experienced Cian Healy.

4 Jake Ball (Scarlets)

Age: 28
Height: 6’7”
Weight: 121kg (19st)
Caps: 43

Brooding and bearded, Ball matches his prowess at the lineout with work rate around the pitch – he’s likely to get through plenty of donkey work against Ireland.

Alun Wyn Jones earns his 136th Test match cap against Ireland. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Alun Wyn Jones earns his 136th Test match cap against Ireland. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

5 Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys)

Age: 34
Height: 6’6”
Weight: 122kg (19st, 2lbs)
Caps: 135

Like his fellow 34-year-old Sexton, Alun Wyn Jones is the beating heart of Wales. Undying, unrelenting – he still has plenty of miles on the clock as he approaches Test cap 136.

6 Aaron Wainwright (Dragons)

Age: 22
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 102kg (16st)
Caps: 19

Victorious in 15 of his 19 Test matches, Wainwright is a frightening prospect. A tackling machine with pace to burn, his grasp of the dark arts will only improve under the tutelage of Sam Warburton.

7 Justin Tipuric (Ospreys)

Age: 30
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 100kg (15st, 8lbs)
Caps: 73

Equally as adept at operating in the wide channels as he is on the floor, Tipuric is an all-round specimen in the backrow who delivered a man of the match performance against Italy.

Taulupe Faletau made his first Six Nations appearance since 2018 against Italy. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Taulupe Faletau made his first Six Nations appearance since 2018 against Italy. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

8 Taulupe Faletau (Bath)

Age: 29
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 110kg (17st, 4lbs)
Caps: 73

Faletau came through his first Six Nations appearance since 2018 unscathed. For now, that’s all that matters – a huge performance could be in store on Saturday now he has minutes under his belt

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