x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Shanklin and Henson join forces again

Tom Shanklin is rewarded for his match-winning score against Italy with a place in the starting XV to face Ireland at the Millennium Stadium.

Tom Shanklin has been rewarded for his match-winning score against Italy with a place in the starting XV to face Ireland at the Millennium Stadium. The muscular Cardiff Blues back, who is preferred to Jamie Roberts, will line up at outside centre and form a midfield axis with Gavin Henson that inspired Wales to Grand Slam glory in 2005 and 2008. Coach Warren Gatland has made seven other changes for the game - including recalls for prop Gethin Jenkins, lock Ian Gough and flanker Martyn Williams.

James Hook is replaced at fly-half by the more experienced Stephen Jones, only lock Alun-Wyn Jones and number eight Andy Powell remain from the pack who started in Rome while Ryan Jones reclaims captaincy duties. Gatland said: "I don't mind admitting we have left ourselves with a lot to do to win the championship. "But, on the other hand, the 13-point deficit is by no means insurmountable. "There is also a Triple Crown at stake and we know only too well in Wales that Grand Slams don't come cheaply."

* With agencies