Martyn Williams has been named Wales captain despite failing to hit top form in the RBS 6 Nations so far
Martyn Williams has been handed the Wales captaincy for their RBS 6 Nations match against Ireland.
The 34-year-old flanker – who will win his 95th cap against the reigning champions – takes the armband from Ryan Jones, who misses out on the trip to Dublin with a calf strain.
Williams had been under pressure for his place from Blues teammate Sam Warburton but Warren Gatland has demonstrated his faith in the veteran openside who will become Wales’ most capped forward.
Gareth Delve makes his first Wales’ appearance in two years by taking Jones’ No.8 shirt while Gatland has also makes a change in the second row with Luke Charteris outing Deniol Jones.
Lions hooker Matthew Rees returns in place of Huw Bennett while scrum-half Mike Phillips remains on the sidelines with a knee injury as Richie Rees keeps the No.9 jersey.
“This is an opportunity for Martyn, who is one of our key leaders, to captain Wales again and rise to that challenge,” said Gatland.
“Ryan has been managing his calf but it has hampered his involvement in training and he needs to get it right for his own sake as well as for his region.
“He has some big games coming up and for the sake of the national cause as we countdown to the World Cup, we thought it best to rest him.
“Ireland are an impressive and experienced side with a pack of players who have been around for a long time and who are tough players.
“We meet them after a good win against England and a loss to France by a score line which probably flattered the French.
“We know we need to improve but we do think we have the talent and ability in this squad to match any squad and confident we are good enough to win this match if we can get things right on the day.”
Wales team to face Ireland:
Lee Byrne, Leigh Halfpenny, James Hook, Jamie Roberts, Shane Williams, Stephen Jones, Richie Rees; Paul James, Matthew Rees, Adam Jones, Bradley Davies, Luke Charteris, Jonathan Thomas, Martyn Williams (capt), Gareth Delve.
Replacements: Huw Bennett, Rhys Gill, Ian Gough, Sam Warburton, Dwayne Peel, Andrew Bishop, Tom Shanklin.