Liam Williams: Full-back fit as Wales unchanged to face Ireland

Liam Williams
Liam Williams won his 55th Wales cap against Scotland before he was forced off in the second half
Six Nations: Wales v Ireland
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Saturday, 16 March Kick-off: 14:45 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One and S4C, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru and BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Liam Williams is fit to start as Grand Slam-chasing Wales name an unchanged side to face Ireland on Saturday.

The full-back was was forced off during last weekend's 18-11 victory against Scotland with a shoulder injury.

Gareth Anscombe starts at outside-half with Dan Biggar still on the replacements bench.

Wales are chasing a third Grand Slam under Warren Gatland - adding to the 2008 and 2012 successes - which would be a record for one coach.

It is Gatland and fellow New Zealander's Joe Schmidt's final Six Nations matches in charge of their respective nations before they finish their jobs at the end of the 2019 World Cup.

Ireland and England, who play Scotland immediately after this match at the Principality Stadium, can also win the Six Nations title.

"We felt that it was pretty hard to change a team that is winning in particular if you have a chance for a Grand Slam," said Gatland.

"We have spoken all week about embracing it and not running away from it.

"You get opportunities that come along in life and you have to take it with both hands. I have said to this group of players you might never get a chance like this again and you don't want to let those opportunities pass you by.

"I have not seen a group of players as motivated as this before and this excited about playing in a Grand Slam game, wanting to win and put that jersey on and play for themselves and families and Wales as a whole and what it means to the country.

"I know Ireland want to come and spoil the party but we have a chance of realistically finishing first or third while Ireland probably be second or third.

"We know what is at stake and the prize is massive."

Gatland pays tribute to skipper Alun Wyn Jones

Will the roof be open or closed?

Gatland was asked about the Principality Stadium roof and whether it will be closed or not for Saturday's game.

The away side get the final say on that matter and, with heavy rain forecast this weekend, Gatland expects Ireland to request to have the roof open.

"We have not heard definitively but we understand they want it open which is not a concern for us," he said.

"My only concern is that if it is pouring down with rain then we do have a responsibility to the game for a spectacle.

"There may be 9m people watching it on TV but I don't see the point having the opportunity to close the roof, to potentially play in terrible weather conditions.

"That's a decision that is out of my hands. Both teams have to agree to the roof being closed so that means basically the away team decides what happens in our stadium. It's our stadium and we should be able to do what we want with it.

"It is not something we have spoken about all week and we just presume Ireland would be like England and ask for the roof to be open.

"There is no doubt when the roof is closed does create more of an atmosphere in terms of the noise.

"Some teams are able to handle that and others can't with the extra noise and pressure and what the crowd can deliver from a home point of view.

"Saying that I thought the atmosphere from the England game was up there with as good as I have ever heard especially the last 20 minutes. The crowd got behind us and they were amazing and if they do that again on Saturday it will be brilliant."

Wales team to face Ireland: L Williams (Saracens); North (Ospreys), J Davies (Scarlets), Parkes (Scarlets), Adams (Worcester); Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), G Davies (Scarlets); R Evans (Scarlets), Owens (Scarlets), Francis (Exeter Chiefs), Beard (Ospreys), AW Jones (Ospreys, capt), Navidi (Cardiff Blues), Tipuric (Ospreys), Moriarty (Dragons).

Replacements: Dee (Dragons), Smith (Ospreys), D Lewis (Cardiff Blues), Ball (Scarlets), Wainwright (Dragons), A Davies (Ospreys), Biggar (Northampton), Watkin (Ospreys).

Six Nations standings
Wales will receive a three-point bonus if they beat Ireland to clinch the Grand Slam, thus ensuring they will be crowned Six Nations champions


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