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Ireland                          Wales
Sunday 7th February 15:00 GMT

 

Ireland open their bid to become the first country to win three successive 6-Nations titles, with a home game against Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Sunday. The men from the Emerald Isle could not have asked for a more difficult start to the 2016 campaign, however. After Sunday's opener, Ireland face trips to France and England. Their title bid will either be in full swing by the time they leave Twickenham or alternatively in complete tatters.

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Ireland, who were completely dismantled by Argentina in the World Cup quarter-finals, which was their last international outing, will be starting life without their inspiration Munsterman Paul O'Connell in the boiler room, their captain having retired from international rugby after suffering a major hamstring injury during the World Cup. Not only without O'Connell, but the Irish will also have to make do without Peter O'Mahony and Ian Henderson for the entire 6-Nations due to injury, while they are also faced with front row selection problems, as Marty Moore has a hamstring tear, and neither Mike Ross or Cian Healy has played since December.

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Although they were knocked out at the quarter-final stage of the World Cup, the Welsh side will enter the Six Nations full of confidence. That they came so close to beating the Springboks in the last eight, despite a raft of injuries, that would have crippled any side's challenge, said much for the spirit within their camp. With most of those injured players now available for selection, Wales may very well be the team that everyone will need to watch out for this season.

Posted: 8th February 2014

 

The opening round of matches in this season's Six Nations Championship probably left more unanswered questions, than provided answers to the title winning credentials of all six competing nations. Strangely, even though two of the sides who won their opening games, Ireland and Wales, clash at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday afternoon, neither side made a convincing argument to be considered favorites when they clash, or to be considered as genuine title contenders.

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The winners of Saturday's contest, will of course, be just one win away from a Triple Crown, with Ireland having struggled to overcome a spirited but tactically limited Scotland last weekend, while Wales who are chasing their own piece of history, with a third successive outright championship, were very unconvincing winners against Italy at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

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Wales restore Sam Warburton to the open-side wing forward position, in place of Justin Tipuric who drops to the bench, and Warburton will once again lead his country. Coach Warren Gatland has also selected loose-head prop Gethin Jenkins in place of Paul James, while Andrew Coombs replaces Luke Charteris in the second row.

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Ireland too, will hope to have their captain restored to the starting line up, with Paul O'Connell, who was a late withdrawal from the Scotland game with a chest infection, expected to have recovered to replace Ulster's Tuohy, who stepped in last weekend.


Tags: Wales, Aviva Stadium, Ireland, Six Nations, Six Nations Championship, Justin Tipuric, Warren Gatland, Gethin Jenkins, Luke Charteris
Posted: 7th February 2016


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