Wales hand shock debut to Dragons lock Coombs
UNCAPPED Dragons lock Andrew Coombs has been handed a shock call-up to Wales's starting XV for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations opener against Ireland in Cardiff.
Coombs, a major surprise in Rob Howley's initial squad for the tournament, is named in the second row alongside Osprey Ian Evans, who has overcome a knee injury to make his first appearance since November.
Howley has made five changes in all from the side that were beaten late on by Australia in the autumn.
Dan Biggar has won the battle for the No. 10 jersey and is preferred to James Hook, who has to make do with a place on the bench alongside Justin Tipuric.
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There have been widespread calls for Tipuric's inclusion at openside after some outstanding performances for the Ospreys this season.
However, skipper Sam Warburton retains the No. 7 jersey, while Scarlets flanker Aaron Shingler gets the nod at blindside flanker.
Up front, the 2009 Lions front row of Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees and Adam Jones are reunited with Richard Hibbard, Ryan Jones, Eli Walker, Liam Williams and Lou Reed not considered because of injury.
Harlequins lock Olly Kohn could also make his debut after being named among the replacements.
Wales: L. Halfpenny (Blues); A. Cuthbert (Blues), J. Davies (Scarlets), J. Roberts (Blues), G. North (Scarlets); D. Biggar (Ospreys), M. Phillips (Bayonne); G. Jenkins (Toulon), M. Rees (Scarlets), A. Jones (Ospreys), A. Coombs (Dragons), I. Evans (Ospreys), A. Shingler (Scarlets), T. Faletau (Dragons), S. Warburton (Blues; capt). Reps: P. James (Bath), K. Owens (Scarlets), C. Mitchell (Exeter), O. Kohn (Harlequins), J. Tipuric (Ospreys), Lloyd Williams (Blues), S. Williams (Scarlets), J. Hook (Perpignan).