Keelan Giles scored a hat-trick of tries for the Ospreys in Europe. Pic: Getty Images.

Keelan Giles Back To Remind Rob Howley He’s Wales’ Next Big Thing

Keelan Giles could yet wing his way into Wales’ Six Nations campaign after being declared fit for the Ospreys.

The lightning quick 19-year-old – who was left out of coach Rob Howley’s 36-man squad for the tournament because of a hamstring injury – has been picked to start for his region at home to Munster on Saturday.

It will be Giles’ first match for over a month and with doubts still over the long term fitness of George North, an immediate impact by the uncapped young Osprey could result in him re-joining the national squad he was part of last November.

Sam Davies – who was the only Wales replacement not used by Howley during last week’s 21-16 defeat to England – will join Giles in starting against Munster.

The other members of Wales’ Six Nations squad in the Ospreys’ starting line-up are props Nicky Smith and Rhodri Jones, hooker Scott Baldwin and back-row forwards Olly Cracknell and James King.

Munster are a point ahead of the Ospreys at the top of the Guinness Pro12 and won their Champions Cup group ahead of Glasgow, Leicester, and Racing 92.

The Ospreys will have renege on their minds after crashing to their biggest defeat of the season – a 33-0 thrashing – against Munster in Cork in November.

“The drubbing we got out there, it’s still on my mind and that was a real wake-up call for us,” said Ospreys defence coach Brad Davis.

“We’re playing arguably the top team on form in Europe in all competitions – Top 14, Aviva Premiership or our competition.

“They’ve shown top end form against the highest quality opposition in the Champions Cup. The test for us this week is enormous, but one we’re really excited about.”

Returning Irish internationals Ian Keatley, Billy Holland and John Ryan have all been made available for the top of the table clash and are included in the starting line-up.

Ryan comes in to join Dave Kilcoyne and Rhys Marshall in the front row while Holland and Darren O’Shea form a new look second row in completing the front five. Holland will make his 150th appearance for the province this Saturday.

In the backline, Ian Keatley starts at fullback, joining Darren Sweetnam and Ronan O’Mahony in the back three, and the final change sees Francis Saili pairing up with Rory Scannell in midfield.

Ospreys: Dan Evans; Keelan Giles, Kieron Fonotia, Ashley Beck, Hanno Dirksen; Sam Davies, Tom Habberfield (capt); Nicky Smith, Scott Baldwin, Rhodri Jones, Lloyd Ashley, Rory Thornton, Olly Cracknell, Sam Underhill, James King.

Replacements: Sam Parry, Paul James, Daniel Suter, Tyler Ardron, Dan Baker, Brendon Leonard, Luke Price, Ben John.

Munster: Ian Keatley; Darren Sweetman, Francis Saili, Rory Scannell, Ronan O’Mahony; Tyler Bleyendaal (capt), Duncan Williams; Dave Kilcoyne, Rhys Marshall, John Ryan, Darren O’Shea, Billy Holland, Dave O’Callaghan, Tommy O’Donnell, Jack O’Donoghue.

Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Peter McCabe, Stephen Archer, Dave Foley, Conor Oliver, Abrie Griesel, Dan Goggin, Andrew Conway.

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)

Assistant referees: Claude Blessano (Italy), Stuart Kibble (WRU)

TMO: Stefano Penne (FIR)


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