A TEIFI rugby player will be starting for Wales in the opening Six Nations fixture against Ireland this weekend.

Gareth Thomas, 29, from Newcastle Emlyn, a former pupil of Ysgol Dyffryn Teifi in Llandysul, will be starting at loosehead prop.

It will be his 18th cap for the national side since his debut off the bench against Canada on July 30, 2021.

The Ospreys prop was integral in the Wales U20 squad of 2013 that made the final of the Junior World Championship. Prior to joining the Ospreys in 2014, he played for Carmarthen Quins, Llanelli and Newcastle Emlyn.

In his international career Thomas – who is cap number 1169 – he has featured five times for Wales in the Six Nations, six times in the Autumn Nations Series and in six other test matches and has received one yellow card.

He is joined by 11 fellow Ospreys in the side to face Ireland on Saturday, February 4 as George North, Joe Hawkins, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones, Jac Morgan and Justin Tipuric starting and Scott Baldwin, Rhys Webb, Owen Williams and Alex Cuthbert are on the bench.



Head coach Warren Gatland said: “There’s a mixture in the team of some experience, some younger players. We were conscious as well picking the bench. We think we’ve got a bench that can come on and have an impact.

“Ireland are the number one team in the world, so they’re going to be coming here with a lot of confidence.

"You don’t become the number one team in the world without having some pretty consistent performances. We know how good they are and we’re expecting a really tough contest. It’s important for us that we start well, but we need to be in the game at the last 20mins.

“We’ve only had a couple of weeks together but I’m confident that the guys will go out and give a good account of themselves. They’re pretty excited about playing this first game at home.”

Wales’ team to face Ireland in the opening Six Nations match on Saturday, February 4, 2023, 2.15pm kick off is: Leigh Halfpenny, Josh Adams, George North, Joe Hawkins, Rio Dyer, Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams, Gareth Thomas, Ken Owens (captain), Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones, Jac Morgan, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Scott Baldwin, Rhys Carre, Dillon Lewis, Dafydd Jenkins, Tommy Reffell, Rhys Webb, Owen Williams, Alex Cuthbert.