Wales unchanged for crucial game

Date published: March 10 2015

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Sam Warburton will lead an unchanged Wales XV against Ireland on Saturday as he enters the record books, captaining his nation for a record 34th time.

The Cardiff Blues flanker will surpass Ryan Jones' record of 33 as Wales look for their third victory of the Six Nations championship.

The XV players that took to the field at the Stade de France will start the penultimate fixture against the defending champions. There are two injury-forced changes on the bench with uncapped Rob Evans and his Scarlets teammate Jake Ball coming in for Paul James and Bradley Davies respectively.

Gethin Jenkins will earn his 114th cap alongside Scott Baldwin and Samson Lee in the front-row.

Luke Charteris and Alun Wyn Jones partner in the second row with Dan Lydiate and Taulupe Faletau lining up alongside captain Warburton.

Ospreys duo Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar continue at half-back with Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies named in the midfield. The back-three sees Liam Williams and George North line up with Leigh Halfpenny.

"We return to the Millennium Stadium after two tough away trips with two victories and will be looking to build on that," said Wales head coach Warren Gatland.

"We saw an improvement against Scotland and then saw another step up against France and we know we will need to do the same against Ireland on Saturday.

"Ireland are the form team in Europe and we know it is going to be a huge battle.

"The changes on the bench mean Rob Evans gets an opportunity. We have been impressed with him for his region and at training. Our strength in depth in the second-row is highlighted again as Jake comes back into the squad.

"Saturday is also a fantastic achievement and honour for Sam. He has developed into the role fantastically and is a modern day professional. He is a role model that will continue to get better."

Richard Hibbard and Aaron Jarvis join Evans as the front-row contingent on the bench. Ball and Justin Tipuric complete the forward replacements. Mike Phillips, Rhys Priestland and Scott Williams again provide the backline cover.

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (c), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun-Wyn Jones, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Gethin Jenkins
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Mike Phillips, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Scott Williams.

Date: Saturday, March 14

Venue: Stade de France, Paris
Kickoff: 14:30 GMT
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: Jerome Garces (France), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: Graham Hughes

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