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Page last updated at 12:52 GMT, Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Six Nations: James Hook handed Wales fly-half shirt

Six Nations: WALES v IRELAND
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff Date: Sat, 12 March Kick-off: 1700 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One Wales, BBC One HD and online from 1635-1900; Listen on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Radio 5 Live; Text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles

James Hook will return to fly-half for Wales against Ireland
James Hook returns at 10 for Wales against Ireland after his centre role in Italy

Wales have restored James Hook to fly-half for Saturday's Six Nations clash against Ireland in Cardiff.

Centre Jonathan Davies is fit again after the hamstring injury that kept him out of the win in Italy and returns to partner Jamie Roberts in midfield.

That allows Hook to switch from centre to stand-off, Stephen Jones dropping to the bench, while Leigh Halfpenny replaces Morgan Stoddart on the wing.

Scrum-half Dwayne Peel is named on the bench in place of Tavis Knoyle.

Elsewhere among the replacements, Ospreys hooker Richard Hibbard has overcome his shoulder problem and provides front-row cover with Cardiff Blues prop John Yapp.

Rick O'Shea checks out Ireland

Rick O'Shea checks out Ireland

Jonathan Thomas has recovered from a dead leg to take his place on the replacements bench with Rob McCusker being preferred to Andy Powell as back-five cover.

Ospreys scrum-half Mike Phillips and his regional team-mate Ryan Jones will both win their 50th Wales caps.

Jones takes his place at number eight in an unchanged back-row, with Wales coach Warren Gatland keeping faith with the entire pack for the third fixture in a row.

"This is a crucial game for us a win will keep us in the championship mix and take us into that final round with everything still to play for," said Gatland.

"But it is a big game for Ireland too who are in a similar position to us going into this match."

Morgan Stoddart misses out but he has done nothing wrong

Wales coach Robin McBryde

Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde has called on the pack to bring a new level to their game when they take the field against Ireland at the Millennium Stadium.

"The forwards had a tough day at the office in Italy and we were not at our very best so we are looking for a step up in performance this weekend," said McBryde.

"Ireland will be tough, they have a well-drilled set-piece game, are good around the field and are strong defensively.

"They bring intensity to the breakdown area which is always so crucial in these big games and it will be up to us to match them if we are going to be able to provide a platform for our exciting backs to play.

"The debate at fly-half will continue long after the Championship is over, but we have gone for James [Hook] on this occasion.

"James provides a running threat and we will be looking for him to show he can control the game as well and help us play in the right areas.

Moore mouth: The Irish approach

"Leigh [Halfpenny] had a good run out for the Blues at the weekend we know all about his pace and what he offers around the field, as well as being solid under the high ball he gives us a long-range kicking option.

"Morgan [Stoddart] misses out but he has done nothing wrong and we know he can be relied on if we need him from the bench.

"We also have a vast amount of experience in Stephen [Jones] and Dwayne [Peel] to call upon if necessary. Both have proved in the past that they can come on and make an impact and neither will let us down."

British and Irish Lions prop Adam Jones has not been called up despite returning to action last weekend after a seven-week absence with a shoulder injury.

Gatland had been urged to recall Jones after the experienced tight-head proved his fitness with a 22-minute outing as a replacement in the Ospreys' 37-6 win over Glasgow on Saturday.

Wales: Lee Byrne (Ospreys); Leigh Halfpenny (Blues), Jamie Roberts (Blues), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Shane Williams (Ospreys); James Hook (Ospreys), Mike Phillips (Ospreys); Paul James (Ospreys), Matthew Rees (Scarlets, capt), Craig Mitchell (Ospreys), Bradley Davies (Blues), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Dragons), Sam Warburton (Blues), Ryan Jones (Ospreys).
Replacements: Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), John Yapp (Blues), Rob McCusker (Scarlets), Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys), Dwayne Peel (Sale Sharks), Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Morgan Stoddart (Scarlets).

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa).

Assistant referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa) & Peter Allan (Scotland).

TMO: Geoff Warren (England).

Wales squad:

Forwards: Paul James (Ospreys), John Yapp (Blues), Craig Mitchell (Ospreys), Ryan Bevington (Ospreys), Scott Andrews (Blues), Matthew Rees (Scarlets, capt), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Huw Bennett (Ospreys), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Bradley Davies (Blues), Ryan Jones (Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Blues), Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys), Andy Powell (Wasps), Josh Turnbull (Scarlets), Rob McCusker (Scarlets), Dan Lydiate (Dragons).

Backs: Mike Phillips (Ospreys), Dwayne Peel (Sale), Tavis Knoyle (Scarlets), Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), James Hook (Ospreys), Jamie Roberts (Blues), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Shane Williams (Ospreys), Morgan Stoddart (Scarlets), Lee Byrne (Ospreys), Leigh Halfpenny (Blues).

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BBC Sport Wales coverage
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