Preview: Ireland v Wales

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The World Cup warm-ups come to an end in Dublin on Saturday as Wales travel to Ireland for a return fixture.

It was the Irish who emerged victorious in Ireland last week, winning 22-17 after a dominant opening hour that saw them leading 22-3 before a late Welsh salvo.

On the back of that both Warren Gatland and Joe Schmidt named their 31-man squads that will travel to Japan later this month, with controversy for both.

Gatland’s choice to leave Rob Evans out, taking just five props with Rhys Carre covering loosehead and Wyn Jones nominated as an emergency tighthead was met with some questions in Wales.

Meanwhile in Ireland there was a selection decision that made headlines around the World with experienced lock Devin Toner left out for Jean Kleyn.

Kleyn only qualified to play for Ireland this summer, with conversation again turning to eligibility rules. World Rugby blazer Agustin Pichot also, unwisely, decided to wade in with an opinion.

The second row will pack down today at the Aviva Stadium alongside James Ryan as Schmidt puts out what is seen as one of the strongest Irish XVs.

Rory Best, Tadhg Furlong, CJ Stander, Conor Murray, Jonny Sexton and Keith Earls are amongst the other familiar faces drafted in for a last hit out before the World Cup starts.

Ireland: Rob Kearney, Jordan Larmour, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Keith Earls, Jonny Sexton, Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rory Best (c), Tadhg Furlong, James Ryan, Jean Kleyn, CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Iain, Henderson, Rhys Ruddock, Luke McGrath, Jack Carty, Garry Ringrose

Gatland meanwhile has opted for a hybrid team, with a number of first team faces lining up alongside squad players requiring more game time.

Tomas Francis, Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty, Hadleigh Parkes, Jon Davies, George North and Josh Adams all start, and would do in a strongest Wales XV currently.

However Wyn Jones, Elliot Dee, Jake Ball, Aaron Wainwright and Leigh Halfpenny are also included to get more minutes ahead of travelling to Japan.

The most interesting selection is at half-back though, where Tomos Williams and Rhys Patchell team up from the start after their impressive performances off the bench last week.

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Jon Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Rhys Patchell, Tomos Williams; Wyn Jones, Elliot Dee, Tomas Francis, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones (c), Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty

Replacements: Ken Owens, Nicky Smith, Dillon Lewis, Adam Beard, Josh Navidi, Gareth Davies, Dan Biggar, Liam Williams

A game where the concentration of many watching will be on injuries rather than performance and result with the World Cup now just two weeks away.

However both teams will no doubt be keen to get on the plane with a win and a statement made, so expect a tough test match despite the circumstances.

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