• Warren Gatland opts for continuity as Wales chase grand slam
• ‘There is bound to be a bit of emotion on Saturday’
Wales have named an unchanged team to face Ireland in Cardiff on Saturday as they look to complete Warren Gatland’s final Six Nations match as their head coach with a grand slam.
Liam Williams has recovered from the shoulder injury he suffered early in the second-half against Scotland at Murrayfield last Saturday to take his place at full-back as Wales look to extend their record winning Test run to 14 matches.
Alun Wyn Jones will win his 134th Test cap (125 for Wales and nine for the Lions) to move level with his former international colleague Gethin Jenkins. He is the one survivor from Gatland’s first year in charge, in 2008 when they won the grand slam.
With Gatland keeping the same bench that was on duty at Murrayfield, Wales will have continuity against the champions, who have had a day less to prepare after playing France in Dublin on Sunday. “Naming an unchanged squad rewards the players for the last couple of outings and victories,” said Gatland as Wales chase what would be a record fourth grand slam in the Six Nations era. “The players are in a very good run, a hugely impressive group who deserve to be going into the final weekend with everything to play for, reward for all the hard work they have put in.”
It is the final competitive home match in Cardiff for Gatland and most of his lieutenants, with Shaun Edwards, Rob Howley and Robin McBryde all moving on. Only the kicking coach, Neil Jenkins, will remain when Wayne Pivac takes over as head coach after the World Cup.
“It will be the last Six Nations match for a number of the coaches and the fact it is in Cardiff makes it extra special,” Gatland added. “There is bound to be a bit of emotion on Saturday and that is something to embrace. We are all looking forward to what is going to be a huge game.”