James Hook switched to fly-half for Wales

James Hook will make his second start at fly-half in this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship when Wales face Ireland on Saturday.

Hook, who wore the number 10 shirt and guided Wales to victory over Scotland at Murrayfield last month, replaces Stephen Jones.



Jones is on the bench, with fit-again Scarlets centre Jonathan Davies returning to midfield alongside Jamie Roberts after Hook deputised for him against Italy 10 days ago.



One other change from Rome sees a recall for Cardiff Blues wing Leigh Halfpenny, who is preferred to the unlucky Morgan Stoddart, a try-scorer against England and Italy.



Wales coach Warren Gatland has otherwise retained the team that triumphed at Stadio Flaminio, which means scrum-half Mike Phillips and number eight Ryan Jones both winning their 50th caps.



Despite Wales yesterday reporting a number of injury niggles, Gatland brought forward his team announcement by 48 hours to today.



He will choose two from three back-five forwards - Rob McCusker, Andy Powell and Jonathan Thomas - after fitness checks on Thursday, while there is a confirmed place among the substitutes for Sale scrum-half Dwayne Peel.



Gatland will break the Wales coaching record of 35 Tests in charge on Saturday, eclipsing Alan Davies' mark. Ireland though, have only lost once in Cardiff since 1983.



Gatland said: "This is a crucial game for us as a win will keep us in the Championship mix and take us into that final round with everything still to play for



"But it is also a big game for Ireland, who are in a similar position to us going into this match."



Addressing the fly-half issue, assistant coach Robin McBryde challenged Hook to justify the faith shown in him.



McBryde said: "The debate at fly-half will continue long after the Championship is over, but we have gone for James on this occasion.



"James provides a running threat and we will be looking for him to show he can control the game as well and help us play in the right areas."



Of Halfpenny's recall, McBryde added: "Leigh had a good run out for the Blues at the weekend, we know all about his pace and what he offers around the field as well as being solid under the high ball and giving us a long-range kicking option.



"Morgan misses out, but he has done nothing wrong and we know he can be relied on if we need him from the bench.



"We also have a vast amount of experience in Stephen (Jones) and Dwayne to call upon if necessary. Both have proved in the past that they can come on and make an impact and neither will let us down."



Wales team to play Ireland in the RBS 6 Nations Championship at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday:

L Byrne (Ospreys); L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), J Davies (Scarlets), S Williams (Ospreys); J Hook (Ospreys), M Phillips (Ospreys); P James (Ospreys), M Rees (Scarlets, capt), C Mitchell (Ospreys), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), A-W Jones (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues), R Jones (Ospreys).



Replacements: R Hibbard (Ospreys), J Yapp (Cardiff Blues), D Peel (Sale Sharks), S Jones (Scarlets), M Stoddart (Scarlets), plus two from R McCusker (Scarlets), A Powell (Wasps) and J Thomas (Ospreys).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world