Coombs set for Wales bow against Ireland
- Published: 31/01/2013 at 09:44 PM
- Online news:
Andrew Coombs is set to make his Wales debut when the Grand Slam champions begin the defence of their Six Nations title at home to Ireland on Saturday.
Wales' then assistant coach Rob Howley gives instructions during a training session in preparation for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in Wellington, New Zeland on September 7, 2011. Newport Gwent Dragons forward Andrew Coombs has been was named in the starting XV announced Thursday by interim head coach Howley.
Coombs, 28, was named in the starting XV announced Thursday by interim head coach Rob Howley, after a second row injury crisis left Wales without several experienced locks, and he will pack down alongside Ian Evans, who has himself been struggling with knee trouble.
But there was no place for the side for in-form openside Justin Tipuric.
Wales captain Sam Warburton retained the No 7 shirt with Aaron Shingler at blindside flanker and Tipuric on the bench for this Millennium Stadium match.
In the backs, Ospreys playmaker Dan Biggar filled the key role of fly-half vacated by the injured Rhys Priestland, with Wales looking to end a run of seven successive Test defeats this weekend.
Newport Gwent Dragons forward Coombs has been a full-time professional for fewer than three years and only recently switched from back-row to lock.
However, Howley was confident the former computer software salesman would acquit himself well against Ireland.
"It's a great opportunity for Andrew, who has been performing well at regional level, to show what he can do on this stage," Howley said.
"As a squad, we have worked hard over the past two weeks and go into Saturday excited and confident at defending our title," the former Wales scrum-half, taking charge of the national side while Warren Gatland 'scouts' in his role as British and Irish Lions boss for this year's tour of Australia, added.
"The Six Nations is all about momentum, and we know we have to hit the ground running against Ireland."
Howley has reunited the 2009 Lions front row of Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees and Adam Jones, with powerful scrummager Jones returning after missing Wales' entire 2012 end-of-year series with a knee injury.
Meanwhile uncapped England-born lock Olly Kohn, a second row with English champions Harlequins, was among the replacements. The 31-year-old is qualified for Wales through his late grandfather.
Wales have not defeated another Test-playing country since beating France at the Millennium Stadium in March to secure a third Six Nations crown and Grand Slam in eight years.
But they have won their last three Tests against Ireland, including a 2011 World Cup quarter-final victory, and their starting XV for Saturday's match includes 10 survivors from the team that triumphed 23-21 in Dublin last season.
Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, George North; Dan Biggar, Mike Phillips; Toby Faletau, Sam Warburton (capt), Aaron Shingler; Ian Evans, Andrew Coombs; Adam Jones, Matthew Rees, Gethin Jenkins
Replacements: Ken Owens, Paul James, Craig Mitchell, Olly Kohn, Justin Tipuric, Lloyd Williams, James Hook, Scott Williams
About the author
- Writer: AFP
Position: News agency