Halfpenny started for Wales against Ireland in Williams’ absence
Leigh Halfpenny will start for Wales against Ireland
Leigh Halfpenny will start for Wales in their Six Nations opener against Ireland on Saturday in the absence of Liam Williams.
Halfpenny was given the nod at full-back for the first game of Warren Gatland’s second spell as head coach of Wales at the Principality Stadium.
The 35-year-old will be monitored after being absent from training on Tuesday morning with a hip probleeeeeem, but will be making his first international start since 2021.
Williams will play no part in Cardiff this weekend as he builds his fitness after being sidelined through injury.
Center Joe Hawkins will make his Six Nations debut as a center in partnering George North in midfield after his Test bow against Australia last year.
Dan Biggar is back in the fly-half, with Tomos Williams starting in the scrum-half against the top-ranked team in the world.
Asked about Halfpenny’s selection and Liam Williams’ absence, Gatland said: “He [Williams] trained today.
“Leigh Halfpenny has a bit toned hips so we didn’t put her in this morning’s session. She’ll be training this afternoon so make sure she doesn’t double up on her.
“Liam hasn’t had much rugby. He took a knock and then injured his finger, so he didn’t train last week. We just want to give him more training time with the team.
“Obviously, if something happens to Leigh, we will make a decision by what happens to her. We have everyone fit and available for selection, but we have a few injured and injured players who didn’t train last week.
“Those are some of our thoughts there. We just want more practice time under his belt. No doubt Liam will feature at some point.”
Team Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, Josh Adams, George North, Joe Hawkins, Rio Dyer, Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams; Gareth Thomas, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones, Jac Morgan, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.
Replacements: Scott Baldwin, Rhys Carre, Dillon Lewis, Dafydd Jenkins, Tommy Reffell, Rhys Webb, Owen Williams, Alex Cuthbert.