September 5, 2019 / 11:14 AM / 16 days ago

Wales coach Gatland says Ireland clash is big opportunity

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - British & Irish Lions Head Coach Announcement - Hilton Syon Park, London, Britain - June 12, 2019 Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland during the announcement Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers

(Reuters) - Wales coach Warren Gatland says Saturday’s clash with Ireland is a “big opportunity” for his players to secure their spots in his starting side for their World Cup opener against Georgia.

Gatland named an experienced side for their final preparation match with captain Alun Wyn Jones among those players returning for the clash in the Aviva Stadium.

Rhys Patchell will start at fly-half with Tomos Williams at half-back, Leigh Halfpenny at full-back and George North and Josh Adams on the wings. Hadleigh Parkes and Jonathan Davies partner at centre.

Alun Wyn Jones is joined in the second-row by Jake Ball with Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric and Ross Moriarty comprising the back-row. The front-row consists of Wyn Jones, Elliot Dee and Tomas Francis.

British and Irish Lions Ken Owens, Dan Biggar and Liam Williams are on the bench.

“It is important we hit the ground running in Japan and we give the players enough time on the field,” Gatland said.

“Saturday is the first time these players would have taken to the field as members of the RWC squad, it has been a big week and it is a big opportunity for players to put their hand up and secure spots for the starting XV in Japan.”

Wales team: 15-Leigh Halfpenny, 14-George North, 13-Jonathan Davies, 12-Hadleigh Parkes, 11-Josh Adams, 10-Rhys Patchell, 9-Tomos Williams, 8-Ross Moriarty, 7-Justin Tipuric, 6-Aaron Wainwright, 5-Alun Wyn Jones, 4-Jake Ball, 3-Tomas Francis, 2-Elliot Dee, 1-Wyn Jones

Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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