Nick Tompkins. Pic: Simon King/Replay Images.

Wayne Pivac Says Wales New Boy Nick Tompkins Is Ready For Irish Storm

Wales coach Wayne Pivac has admitted Nick Tompkins’ impact has elbowed wing Johnny McNicholl out of the team to face Ireland.

Saracens centre Tompkins will make his first Test start in Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations clash in Dublin.

Tompkins, who delivered a try-scoring debut off the bench when Wales beat Italy 42-0 five days ago, partners Hadleigh Parkes in midfield.

George North, a centre starter against the Azzurri, moves back to his familar wing position, replacing  McNicholl.

Pivac has made no other changes to the starting line-up, but conceded that McNicholl had done little wrong except compete for only two spots with Tompkins and North.

“We were happy with Johnny,” said Pivac. “But we just felt we couldn’t leave Nick out. It’s an opportunity for George on the wing. We’re trying to build his game and get as many touches as possible.”

“I thought he (Tompkins) played exceptionally well when he came on last week so he deserves the start. We’ve been seeing it in training every day and the way he conducts himself off the field, he’s a true professional.

“He handles himself very well. He’s very impressive. I hope he goes as well starting.”

Wales coach Wayne Pivac. Pic: Simon King/Replay Images.

“George, who played really well last weekend at centre, moves back out to the wing.”

Switches among the replacements, though, see McNicholl being joined by prop Rhys Carre, who is available again after serving a suspension following his sending off in Saracens’ Champions Cup victory over the Ospreys last month.

Scrum-half Gareth Davies and Gloucester back Owen Williams are also on the bench, together with Ospreys lock Adam Beard, who replaces an injured Cory Hill.

Pivac added: “On the bench we have a few players back available, Rhys Carre impressed at the RWC and he comes back in.  Adam Beard comes in for Cory Hill who picked up a leg injury earlier this week, Gareth (Davies) is fully fit and Owen Williams comes onto the bench and gives us a bit more cover.

“Momentum is important in the Championship. It was nice to get a good winning start under our belts and hopefully we can build on that through the tournament.

“Ireland are a very physical team and if they get on the front foot they can be dangerous. We have to match that. It’s not an easy place to go. It will be a big challenge. We have to front up physically.”

It will be the first real test for Pivac since he replaced Warren Gatland after last year’s World Cup. Wales have not won in the Six Nations in Dublin since 2012, although they secured a draw there four years ago.

Ireland have already named their side and made two enforced changes to their team to face Wales at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

George North. Pic: Simon King/Replay Images.

Robbie Henshaw has been named at outside centre after replacing the injured Garry Ringrose at half-time in last Saturday’s opening win over Scotland.

Peter O’Mahony came on after only five minutes for Caelan Doris and, with the young Leinster star ruled out, the Munster skipper starts at flanker with CJ Stander reverting back to No 8.

Ireland: Jordan Larmour; Andrew Conway, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Johnny Sexton (capt), Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rob Herring, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, James Ryan, Peter O’Mahony, CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier.

Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Devin Toner, Max Deegan, John Cooney, Ross Byrne, Keith Earls.

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Nick Tompkins, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams, Wyn Jones,  Ken Owens, Dillon Lewis, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones (C), Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Ryan Elias, Rhys Carre,  Leon Brown, Adam Beard,  Ross Moriarty,  Gareth Davies,  Owen Williams,  Johnny McNichol


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