Wales will host Ireland at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff to kick off an exciting Six Nations campaign.
The Brits, buoyed by the return of Warren Gatland after a lonely 2022, hope they can get the medal before this year’s World Cup.
Although the Irish will enter this year’s tournament as the No. 1 in the world and eager to make more history as a favorite here and a serious contender in France in September.
The atmosphere is expected to be electric in the first of a spectacular double header as England host Scotland in the teatime game.
Here’s everything you need to know about the opener.
What’s the team news?
Thadhg Furlong failed to make a timely return from injury so Finlay Bealham will back up Ireland against Great Britain. Furlong was recovering from an ankle problem when he injured his calf in training last weekend. This is the first game for Ireland that he will be over and has not started in two years. Coach Andy Farrell expected the tight end to be ready for next week against France. The inclusion of Bealham and captain Jonathan Sexton are the only changes to the 15 that started in the last test of 2022, the 13-10 home win over Australia. Sexton was a late withdrawal and was replaced by Jack Crowley, who made his Test debut. Crowley’s replacement Ross Byrne kicked the winning penalty late on. Byrne was selected ahead of Crowley on an experienced bench including Cian Healy, Iain Henderson, Conor Murray and Bundee Aki. Aki returned from suspension to come off the bench against the Wallabies, but Farrell kept Stuart McCloskey in midfield after starting the three autumn tests.
Wales had to make a change after Leigh Halfpenny suffered a back spasm on Thursday and was withdrawn. Liam Williams was placed at full back from outside the team. Williams missed the autumn internationals with a dislocated shoulder, and has not started for Wales since the tour of South Africa in June. Halfpenny was due to win a 98th cap on Saturday and make his first start for Wales in 19 months.
Wales vs Ireland finals
Wales XV: L Halfpenny (Scarets); J Adams (Cardiff), G North (Ospreys), J Hawkins (Ospreys), R Dyer (Dragons); D Biggar (Toulon), T Williams (Cardiff); G Thomas (Ospreys), K Owens (Scarlets, capt), T Francis (Ospreys), A Beard (Ospreys), AW Jones (Ospreys), J Morgan (Ospreys), J Tipuric (Ospreys), T Faletau (Cardiff).
Replacements: S Baldwin (Ospreys), R Carre (Cardiff), D Lewis (Cardiff), D Jenkins (Exeter), T Reffell (Leicester), R Webb (Ospreys), O Williams (Ospreys), A Cuthbert (Ospreys).
Ireland XV: H Keenan (Leiner); M Hansen (Connaught), G Ringrose (Leigh), S McCloskey (Ulster), J Lowe (Leigh); J Sexton (Leiner, capt), J Gibson-Park (Leiner); A Porter (Leiner), D Sheehan (Leiner), F Bealham (Connaught), T Beirne (Leiner), J Ryan (Leiner), P O’Mahony (Leiner), J Van Der Flier (Leiner), C Doris (Leiner ) ).
Replacements: R Herring (Ulster), C Healy (Leiner), T O’Toole (Ulster), I Henderson (Ulster), J Conan (Leiner), C Murray (Munster), R Byrne (Leiner), B Aki (Connaught) .
When is Wales vs Ireland?
The match kicks off at 2:15pm on Saturday 4th February at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.
Where can I watch it?
Wales vs Ireland will be available free to air on BBC One with coverage starting at 1:15pm. Welsh coverage will be available on S4C from 1:30pm.
While live streaming is available on the BBC Sport website, BBC iPlayer and S4C Clic.