George North will return to international action this weekend when Wales play Ireland in Dublin. The winger’s comeback after a long lay-off due to a series of concussions will coincide with his 50th cap for his country.
Warren Gatland has also handed Exeter prop Thomas Francis his international debut on Saturday. The 23 year-old will join Gethin Jenkins and hooker Ken Owens in the front row.
Experienced second-row Alun Wyn-Jones will captain the squad in regular skipper Sam Warburton’s absence.
Warburton is out with a minor knock to his shoulder, but is ‘nothing serious’ according to Gatland. Making up the back-row are Dan Lydiate, Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau.
North – whose last competitive appearance came in March while playing for club Northampton against Wasps – will form a familiar partnership, with Alex Cuthbert and Leigh Halfpenny completing the back three.
After suffering a disappointing 35-21 defeat to Ireland in their opening Rugby World Cup warm-up match in Cardiff, Gatland is looking to this weekend to turn things around.
In the WRU’s official communiqué, Gatland said: “We trimmed the squad down in the middle of August and the remaining 38 have worked extremely hard.
“We have trained well over the past few weeks and Saturday is a chance for a lot of players to get their first taste of rugby this campaign.
“The squad are looking forward to travelling over to Ireland for what is a big warm-up fixture,” said Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland.
Saturday, 29 August, Aviva Stadium, Dublin, kick-off 14:30 BST
WALES TEAM TO PLAY IRELAND
Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Harlequins), George North (Northampton Saints), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs), Bradley Davies (Wasps), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, CAPT), Dan Lydiate (Ospreys), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).
Replacements: Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Paul James (Ospreys), Aaron Jarvis (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Racing Metro), James King (Ospreys), Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Hallam Amos (Newport Gwent Dragons).
Rob Kearney (Leinster); Dave Kearney (Leinster), Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster), Robbie Henshaw (Connacht), Keith Earls (Munster); Johnny Sexton (Leinster), Conor Murray (Munster); Jack McGrath (Leinster), Richardt Strauss (Leinster), Nathan White (Connacht); Iain Henderson (Ulster), Paul O’Connell (Munster CAPT), Peter O’Mahony (Munster), Jordi Murphy (Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster).
Replacements: Sean Cronin (Leinster), Dave Kilcoyne (Munster), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster), Donnacha Ryan (Munster), Sean O’Brien (Leinster), Eoin Reddan (Leinster), Paddy Jackson (Ulster), Felix Jones (Munster).