Coombs named in Wales team, just as we reported

NEWPORT Gwent Dragons lock Andrew Coombs will make his Test debut when Wales launch their RBS 6 Nations title defence against Ireland at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday, as revealed in advance in today’s South Wales Argus.

The 28-year-old packs down in the second row alongside Ian Evans. Wales are shorn of injured locks Alun-Wyn Jones, Bradley Davies and Luke Charteris, while Evans has not started a game since November due to knee trouble.

Ospreys playmaker Dan Biggar, meanwhile, fills the fly-half role vacated by an injured Rhys Priestland as Wales look to end a seven-game losing run that represents their worst results sequence since 2003.

Interim head coach Rob Howley has resisted any temptation to field two openside flankers - skipper Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric - with Warburton retained in his familiar number seven shirt, Aaron Shingler filling blindside duties and Tipuric on bench duty.

Former Wales captain Ryan Jones, who would have offered a back-row or second-row option, is sidelined after dislocating his thumb during the Ospreys' Heineken Cup game against Leicester 18 days ago.

Jones, hooker Richard Hibbard, backs Liam Williams and Eli Walker and lock Lou Reed were all unavailable for selection due to injuries.

Howley has reunited the 2009 British and Irish Lions Test front row of Gethin Jenkins, who wins his 95th cap, Matthew Rees and Adam Jones, with powerhouse scrummager Jones back in action after missing Wales' entire autumn series this season because of a knee injury.

And there is a role among the replacements for uncapped Harlequins lock Olly Kohn. Born in Bristol, 31-year-old Kohn has Welsh qualification through his late grandfather, who hailed from the Rhymney Valley.

Coombs' elevation to Test match status comes less than three years after he made his Dragons debut, and he only recently switched positions from back row to lock.

Coombs, a former computer software salesman, played Welsh Premiership club rugby with Pontypool and Newport before graduating into the Dragons' professional ranks.

But the Wales coaching staff have watched him closely, and he was among five newcomers announced earlier this month by Howley in the Six Nations squad.

"It's a great opportunity for Andrew, who has been performing well at regional level, to show what he can do on this stage,’’ Howley said.

"As a squad, we have worked hard over the past two weeks and go into Saturday excited and confident at defending our title.

"The Six Nations is all about momentum, and we know we have to hit the ground running against Ireland.’’ Wales have not beaten another Test-playing country since defeating France at the Millennium Stadium last March to secure a third Six Nations crown and Grand Slam in eight years.

But they have defeated Ireland three times in a row, including a 2011 World Cup quarter-final victory, and field 10 starting XV survivors from the side that triumphed 23-21 in Dublin last season.

Wales team: L Halfpenny (Cardiff); A Cuthbert (Cardiff), J Davies (Scarlets), J Roberts (Cardiff), G North (Scarlets); D Biggar (Ospreys), M Phillips (Bayonne); G Jenkins (Toulon), M Rees (Scarlets), A Jones (Ospreys), A Coombs (Newport Gwent Dragons), I Evans (Ospreys), A Shingler (Scarlets), S Warburton (Cardiff, capt), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements: K Owens (Scarlets), P James (Bath), C Mitchell (Exeter), O Kohn (Harlequins), J Tipuric (Ospreys), L Williams (Cardiff), J Hook (Perpignan), S Williams (Scarlets)

Comments (7)

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2:44pm Thu 31 Jan 13

Dai the Milk says...

Fantastic Coombsey. You offer so many options, like Shingler. Graft, athleticism, guts, offloading, staying on your feet !!!!, a lineout option.........the list is endless. Here to stay son.
Fantastic Coombsey. You offer so many options, like Shingler. Graft, athleticism, guts, offloading, staying on your feet !!!!, a lineout option.........the list is endless. Here to stay son. Dai the Milk

3:49pm Thu 31 Jan 13

let em swing says...

Well done to coombs, but that welsh team looks weak, a few non proven, a few oap creakers and a few with confidence issues, if we dont go behind we may be ok, but if we have to chase them we are in big trouble.
Well done to coombs, but that welsh team looks weak, a few non proven, a few oap creakers and a few with confidence issues, if we dont go behind we may be ok, but if we have to chase them we are in big trouble. let em swing

8:46pm Thu 31 Jan 13

MazYork says...

Congratulations Andrew, if you perform like you do for the Dragons you'll be fine! Just hope the occasion of winning your 1st cap for Wales drives you on to a man of the match performance!
Congratulations Andrew, if you perform like you do for the Dragons you'll be fine! Just hope the occasion of winning your 1st cap for Wales drives you on to a man of the match performance! MazYork

8:54pm Thu 31 Jan 13

Cwmsteve says...

let em swing wrote:
Well done to coombs, but that welsh team looks weak, a few non proven, a few oap creakers and a few with confidence issues, if we dont go behind we may be ok, but if we have to chase them we are in big trouble.
Weak? British Lions front row, potentially 2 thirds of a British Lion back row and a number of potential British Lion backs. My only concern is that I would've picked Hook over Biggar. Good luck Coombesy boy, i'm sure you'll do yourself proud!
[quote][p][bold]let em swing[/bold] wrote: Well done to coombs, but that welsh team looks weak, a few non proven, a few oap creakers and a few with confidence issues, if we dont go behind we may be ok, but if we have to chase them we are in big trouble.[/p][/quote]Weak? British Lions front row, potentially 2 thirds of a British Lion back row and a number of potential British Lion backs. My only concern is that I would've picked Hook over Biggar. Good luck Coombesy boy, i'm sure you'll do yourself proud! Cwmsteve

9:07pm Thu 31 Jan 13

JWeaver says...

Taking nothing away from Andrew but the biggest surprise was the SW Argus having an up to date story!
Taking nothing away from Andrew but the biggest surprise was the SW Argus having an up to date story! JWeaver

1:21pm Fri 1 Feb 13

Oddjob says...

Best news to come out of Rodney Parade for ten years. Well done Andrew.
Best news to come out of Rodney Parade for ten years. Well done Andrew. Oddjob

2:43pm Fri 1 Feb 13

let em swing says...

Cwmsteve wrote:
let em swing wrote:
Well done to coombs, but that welsh team looks weak, a few non proven, a few oap creakers and a few with confidence issues, if we dont go behind we may be ok, but if we have to chase them we are in big trouble.
Weak? British Lions front row, potentially 2 thirds of a British Lion back row and a number of potential British Lion backs. My only concern is that I would've picked Hook over Biggar. Good luck Coombesy boy, i'm sure you'll do yourself proud!
Past lions front row, only 1 there be going this summer,half back row if toby pulls his finger out, not guaranteed, backs all out of form low on confidence, exceptions halfpenny, cuthbert, and though biggar looks good at region, didnt at country level, question marks over temp coach, thats enough doubts for me.
[quote][p][bold]Cwmsteve[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]let em swing[/bold] wrote: Well done to coombs, but that welsh team looks weak, a few non proven, a few oap creakers and a few with confidence issues, if we dont go behind we may be ok, but if we have to chase them we are in big trouble.[/p][/quote]Weak? British Lions front row, potentially 2 thirds of a British Lion back row and a number of potential British Lion backs. My only concern is that I would've picked Hook over Biggar. Good luck Coombesy boy, i'm sure you'll do yourself proud![/p][/quote]Past lions front row, only 1 there be going this summer,half back row if toby pulls his finger out, not guaranteed, backs all out of form low on confidence, exceptions halfpenny, cuthbert, and though biggar looks good at region, didnt at country level, question marks over temp coach, thats enough doubts for me. let em swing

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