- Wales travel to Dublin to face Ireland in the Six Nations on Saturday afternoon
- Flyhalf Sam Costelow missed Wales’ defeat in England after missing a HIA
Wales coach Warren Gatland has insisted his team is “relishing” the opportunity to take on Six Nations Grand Slam champions Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.
Andy Farrell’s Ireland, who swept the Championship in 2023, are on course for more glory this year after opening with back-to-back wins over France and Italy.
Gatland is in charge of a young Wales team that has so far lost both of its matches against Scotland and England. The journey to the Aviva Stadium is especially daunting.
Flyhalf Sam Costelow is the only change to Wales’ starting XV from the one that faced England at Twickenham. He starts again at number 10 with Ioan Lloyd returning to the bench.
Gatland said: “We are excited to go to Dublin and test ourselves against one of the leading teams in world rugby.” It’s a challenge we’re enjoying.
Wales have selected flyhalf Sam Costelow for Saturday’s Six Nations trip to Ireland
Costelow returns to fitness after failing assessment for head injury during loss to Scotland
“We’ve made strides in the last two games and now it’s about taking advantage of that, learning from those experiences and taking that into this weekend.”
“It’s about continuing to work hard, looking for precision in our performance for 80 minutes and also maintaining our discipline.”
Costelow is the only specialist fly-half in the Wales squad, so his return to Ireland is a boost.
He missed the England match after playing against Scotland and failing a head injury assessment.
Among the Welsh substitutes, defender Mackenzie Martin is in line to win his first cap for the senior team and will become Wales’ 1,200th men’s international if he takes the field.
Tighthead prop Dillon Lewis will make his first appearance in this championship if he is called up from the bench.
Wing Tommy Reffell, who has had an excellent Six Nations to date, continues in the back row for the third consecutive game where he is joined by Alex Mann.
Warren Gatland says his Wales team are ‘excited’ to go to Dublin, despite huge task
Cardiff youngster Mann has scored tries in each of his two Test appearances to date and came into this Six Nations as an international rookie.
Ireland are set to name their team to face Wales on Thursday but are likely to be without star full-back Hugo Keenan due to a knee injury.
Ciaran Frawley is the favorite to replace him in the green number 15 shirt.
Wales have not won a Six Nations match in Dublin since 2012. Ireland have tasted success in 17 consecutive home matches and have won 38 of their last 40 matches in all competitions.