Lydiate returns to test arena for Ireland clash

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Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has recalled Dan Lydiate for a first test cap November 2018 as he names his matchday 23 for the opening game of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations against Ireland.

The 33-year-old last took the field in a red jersey against Australia just over two years ago, but will now add to his 64 Wales caps after an impressive 18 months with the Ospreys, joining Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau in the back row.

There is also an Ospreys recall in the second row where Adam Beard returns to partner the passed fit Alun Wyn Jones after missing out on an Autumn call-up. Jake Ball was not considered due to the knee injury that has kept him sidelined for the Scarlets.

Ken Owens also returns to start at hooker after missing the Autumn through injury, with Wyn Jones and Tomas Francis completing the front row that saw Wales through the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

In the backs Tomos Williams gets the nod at scrum-half after also missing the Autumn through injury, while Dan Biggar reclaims the 10 jersey from Callum Sheedy. Johnny Williams and George North continue their centre partnership from last time out against Italy.

The back three has seen a fair amount of disruption with Liam Williams suspended and Josh Adams unavailable due to COVID-19 breaches, so Hallam Amos will make a first Wales start since the Rugby World Cup and Louis Rees-Zammit will make his Six Nations debut either side of Leigh Halfpenny.

On the bench there is a recall for Rhodri Jones, who could win a first cap since the summer of 2018, while Dragons duo Elliot Dee and Leon Brown complete the replacement front row. Will Rowlands covers second row while Josh Navidi returns as the back row option.

Gareth Davies and Callum Sheedy are the replacement half-back pairing, with Nick Tompkins covering the outside backs.

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, Hallam Amos, George North, Johnny Williams, Louis Rees-Zammit, Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones (c), Dan Lydiate, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Rhodri Jones, Leon Brown, Will Rowlands, Josh Navidi, Gareth Davies, Callum Sheedy, Nick Tompkins

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