British & Irish Lions

Tompkins to start for Wales in Ireland Six Nations clash

Nick Tompkins (Getty Images)
Nick Tompkins (Getty Images)

Cardiff - Saracens centre Nick Tompkins will make his first Wales start in the Six Nations match against Ireland on Saturday in the only change to Wayne Pivac's line-up.

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Tompkins, who made a try-scoring debut from the bench in Saturday's 42-0 mauling of Italy, will line up at outside centre, with George North moving to the wing for the clash in Dublin.

North will line up in an experienced back-three alongside Josh Adams and Leigh Halfpenny, while Tompkins will partner Hadleigh Parkes in the midfield.

Tomos Williams and Dan Biggar continue their partnership at half-back, with fit-again Gareth Davies replacing Rhys Webb as the back-up scrumhalf.

Grand Slam champions Wales have named an unchanged pack with Wyn Jones, Ken Owens and Dillon Lewis in the front-row and Jake Ball lining up alongside captain Alun Wyn Jones.

Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau feature in the back-row.

"We've made just one change after a winning start last weekend," said head coach Pivac.

"Nick comes into the side. I thought he played exceptionally well when he came on last week so he deserves the start. George, who played really well last weekend at centre, moves back out to the wing."

Tompkins said life with Wales was "a nice distraction" following events at crisis-hit Saracens, who will be relegated from the English Premiership at the end of the season after salary cap breaches.

The 24-year-old, who is Welsh-qualified through his grandmother, played for England Under-20s but said there was no contact from England coach Eddie Jones.

"I just had contact with Wayne," he said. "He called me, and I was more than happy to meet him and get the opportunity. I couldn't have accepted it quick enough.

"I wasn't expecting to play for Wales at international level but then I don't know if I was expecting to play international rugby at all. But when it came along, there was no chance of me saying no to it."

New Zealander Pivac has made changes to his replacements with Johnny McNicholl, who started on the wing against Italy, joined on the bench by prop Rhys Carre.

Victory over Italy in Cardiff saw Wales equal their national record of eight successive Six Nations wins since losing to Ireland two years ago.

But they have not won a Six Nations match at Dublin's Aviva Stadium, formerly Lansdowne Road, since 2012.

"They (Ireland) are a very physical team, and if you let them get on the front foot they are very dangerous," said Pivac.

"We've got to be careful with the areas in which we play and make sure we match that physicality that is going to be there.

"We know it's not an easy place to go - the record speaks for itself there."

Ireland, who won 19-12 at home to Scotland in their tournament opener, named their side on Tuesday, with coach Andy Farrell recalling flanker Peter O'Mahony in place of the injured Caelan Doris.

Teams:

Ireland

15 Jordan Larmour, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Johnny Sexton (captain), 9 Conor Murray, 8 Josh van der Flier, 7 CJ Stander, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 James Ryan, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Cian Healy

Substitutes: 16  Ronan Kelleher, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Max Deegan, 21 John Cooney, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Keith Earls

Wales

15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Jake Ball, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Wyn Jones

Substitutes: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Johnny McNicholl

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