Six Nations: Halfpenny starts for Wales against Ireland as Liam Williams misses out

By Sports Desk January 31, 2023

Leigh Halfpenny is set to start for Wales in the Six Nations opener against Ireland on Saturday as Liam Williams missed out.

Halfpenny has been given the nod at full-back for the first match of Warren Gatland's second spell as Wales head coach at the Principality Stadium.

The 35-year-old will be monitored after sitting out training on Tuesday morning due to a hip issue, but is in line to make his first international start since 2021.

Williams will play no part in Cardiff this weekend as he builds up his fitness after being sidelined by injuries.

Centre Joe Hawkins will make his Six Nations debut at inside centre partnering George North in midfield after making his Test bow against Australia last year.

Dan Biggar returns at fly-half, with Tomos Williams starting at scrum-half against the top-ranked side in the world. 

Asked about Halfpenny's selection and the absence of Liam Williams, Gatland said: "He [Williams] trained today.

"Leigh Halfpenny has a little bit of a tight hip, so we kept him out of this morning's session. He'll train this afternoon so just making sure he didn't double up on that.

"Liam hasn't had a lot of rugby. He had the knock and then the finger injury, so he didn't take part in training last week. We just want to give him some more training time with the team.

"Obviously, if something does happen to Leigh, we'll make a decision with what happens to that. We had everyone fit and available for selection, but we had some players with bumps and knocks who didn't take part in training last week.

"That was some of our thinking there. We just want some more training time under his belt. There's no doubt Liam will feature at some point."

 

Wales team: Leigh Halfpenny, Josh Adams, George North, Joe Hawkins, Rio Dyer, Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams; Gareth Thomas, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones, Jac Morgan, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Scott Baldwin, Rhys Carre, Dillon Lewis, Dafydd Jenkins, Tommy Reffell, Rhys Webb, Owen Williams, Alex Cuthbert.

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