Leigh Halfpenny selected for Wales after arduous meeting

Wales coach Warren Gatland has named his team for Saturday's World Cup quarter-final against Ireland, but he admitted: "It was probably one of the longest selection meetings we have ever had."

Leigh Halfpenny - and not James Hook or Lee Byrne - has clinched the full-back berth, while wing Shane Williams and flanker Dan Lydiate both return to the starting line-up following injuries.



Despite Hook regaining fitness after a shoulder injury that meant he missed Wales' final two Pool D games, in-form Halfpenny has won Gatland's vote.



Hook, who has played Test rugby at full-back, centre and fly-half, has to be content with a place on the bench, but Byrne misses out completely.



Halfpenny replaced Hook at half-time during the crucial 17-10 victory over Samoa in Hamilton 18 days ago, creating a match-winning try after he launched an attack from inside his own half. He then played on the wing against Namibia and Fiji.



"This was a tough selection for us," Gatland said.



"It was probably one of the longest selection meetings we have ever had, where we went through every possible permutation available to us.



"It is a great position to be in when you are struggling to find a place for players in the squad and the starting line-up, instead of having to think who can make up the numbers, which has sometimes been the case."



Lydiate returns to the starting XV after recovering from ankle ligament damage, and Williams' thigh strain has also healed, enabling him to wear his familiar number 11 shirt.



With Lydiate reunited alongside back-row colleagues Sam Warburton and Toby Faletau, former Wales captain Ryan Jones moves to the bench.



Lydiate's determined recovery process included him getting up at two-hourly intervals during the night and icing an injury that initially threatened to destroy his World Cup dream.



Eight of Gatland's matchday 22 are aged 23 or under, which confirms the impact Wales' thrilling younger generation have made on the tournament.



But there are no places for British and Irish Lions trio Byrne, Stephen Jones and Andy Powell as Wales move towards what could be their most successful World Cup campaign since 1987.



Wales finished third in that inaugural tournament. Victory over Ireland would set up a semi-final against England and France, two teams struggling for consistency.



"This is Rugby World Cup quarter-final time, and we had some tough decisions to make with the likes of Dan, Shane and James returning from injury and the side having done so well in their recent absence," Gatland added.



"But this is the side we have gone with and, as a 22, we believe it is the team which gives us the best chance of winning this game against an Ireland team which not only topped their group, but beat Australia on the way."



After losing their opening pool game by a point against South Africa, Wales then edged out Samoa before crushing Namibia 81-7 and Fiji 66-0, scoring 21 tries during those last two matches.

Wales team to play Ireland in World Cup quarter-final in Wellington on Saturday:

L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues); G North (Scarlets), J Davies (Scarlets), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), S Williams (Ospreys); R Priestland (Scarlets), M Phillips (Bayonne); G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), H Bennett (Ospreys), A Jones (Ospreys), L Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), A-W Jones (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).



Replacements: L Burns (Newport Gwent Dragons), P James (Ospreys), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), R Jones (Ospreys), L Williams (Cardiff Blues), J Hook (Perpignan), S Williams (Scarlets).



PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
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

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home