Wales hand debut to Andrew Coombs for their Six Nations opener against Ireland
Wales have handed Andrew Coombs a debut in Saturday's Six Nations curtain-raiser against Ireland.
Last Updated: 02/02/13 1:19pm
The 28-year-old Newport-Gwent Dragons star steps into a second row berth after the squad was decimated by a host of injuries.
Locks Alun-Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris and Bradley Davies are all ruled out and Coombs will be partnered by Ian Evans, who has won his own fitness battle by overcoming a knee problem. Harlequins ace Olly Kohn will make his first appearance off of the bench.
Talismanic prop Adam Jones is another to recover from injury to claim a spot in the starting XV - and he is joined in a star-studded front row by fellow British & Irish Lions Matthew Rees and Gethin Jenkins.
Back-rower Ryan Jones - a former captain - is absent because of a dislocated thumb and Scarlets fly-half Rhys Priestland is sidelined by an Achilles tendon injury.
As expected, Dan Biggar beats Perpignan playmaker James Hook to fill in at 10 but there is no place in the squad for Biggar's Ospreys team-mate Eli Walker - the tournament's potential starlet ruled out by hamstring trouble.
Wales: Halfpenny, Cuthbert, J Davies, Roberts, North, Biggar, M Phillips; G Jenkins, Rees, A Jones, Coombs, I Evans, Shingler, Faletau, Warburton (capt).
Replacements: Owens, Mitchell, James, Kohn, Tipuric, L Williams, S Williams, Hook.