There were no shocks or surprises as Warren Gatland named the Wales squad which is bidding to make Six Nations history this year.
No team has ever won three successive championships but Wales, winners in 2012 and 2013, are gunning for glory again this year with a tried and tested squad, featuring no less than 11 of the winning British and Irish Lions squad of 2013.
The Red Dragons, who are the 2/1 favourites for the title with Ladbrokes, can draw on the experience of 28 players from their squad of 32 who have featured in previous winning campaigns.
But Gatland does have injury worries ahead of the tournament starting on February 1st with captain Sam Warburton, Gethin Jenkins and Jonathan Davies all struggling with injures.
Lions captain Warburton has been sidelined in recent weeks and is in a race to be fit for his country’s opener against Italy in Cardiff, while there are concerns over his Cardiff team-mate Jenkins after the prop went off injured in his side’s Heineken Cup clash with Toulon.
There is better news over centres Davies and Jamie Roberts and both are set to play a part in Wales’ bid for history.
Roberts missed the Autumn internationals through injury but is set to take his place in the Welsh midfield alongside Davies, who is making a steady recovery from the chest injury which has kept him out since November.
But if Wales are to secure a historic third straight title, Gatland will want all four fit and firing on all cylinders and if they are, a Grand Slam, on at 6/1 with Ladbrokes, is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility.
Meanwhile, Ireland, who are 5/1 to win the championship, have named seven uncapped players in an extended 44-man squad for the tournament.
Forwards Rob Herring and Robin Copeland are set to make their international bows during this campaign, while Ireland’s record tryscorer Brian O’Driscoll is targeting a second Six Nations win before he calls time on his sublime career.
Forwards: P James (Bath), G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), R Bevington (Ospreys), A Jones (Ospreys), S Lee (Scarlets), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), R Hibbard (Ospreys), K Owens (Scarlets), E Phillips (Scarlets), A-W Jones (Ospreys), L Charteris (Perpignan), I Evans (Ospreys), A Coombs (Newport Gwent Dragons), Ryan Jones (Ospreys), J Tipuric (Ospreys), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), D Lydiate (Racing Metro), A Shingler (Scarlets), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).
Backs: L Williams (Scarlets), L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), G North (Northampton), A Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), S Williams (Scarlets), J Roberts (Racing Metro), J Davies (Scarlets), J Hook (Perpignan), R Priestland (Scarlets), D Biggar (Ospreys), M Phillips (Racing Metro), R Williams (Scarlets), R Webb (Ospreys).
Forwards: Rodney Ah You (Connacht), Stephen Archer (Munster), Rory Best (Ulster), Robin Copeland (Cardiff Blues), Sean Cronin (Leinster), Robbie Diack (Ulster), Cian Healy (Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster), Iain Henderson (Ulster), Chris Henry (Ulster), Rob Herring (Ulster), David Kilcoyne (Munster), Mike McCarthy (Leinster), Jack McGrath (Leinster), Martin Moore (Leinster), Jordi Murphy (Leinster), Paul O’Connell (Munster), Tommy O’Donnell (Munster), Peter O’Mahony (Munster), Mike Ross (Leinster), Rhys Ruddock (Leinster), Devin Toner (Leinster), Dan Tuohy (Ulster), Damian Varley (Munster).
Backs: Isaac Boss (Leinster), Darren Cave (Ulster), Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster), Keith Earls (Munster), Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster), Robbie Henshaw (Connacht), Paddy Jackson (Ulster), Felix Jones (Munster), David Kearney (Leinster), Rob Kearney (Leinster), Ian Keatley (Munster), Ian Madigan (Leinster), Kieran Marmion (Connacht), Luke Marshall (Ulster), Fergus McFadden (Leinster), Conor Murray (Munster), Brian O’Driscoll (Leinster), Eoin Reddan (Leinster), Jonathan Sexton (Racing Metro 92), Andrew Trimble (Ulster).
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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