Six Nations 2014: Wales' Jonathan Davies 'should return at centre'

Six Nations 2014: Ireland v Wales

  • Dates: 8 February, 2014
  • Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
  • Kick-off: 14:30 GMT

Coverage: All matches live on BBC TV, radio and BBC Sport website

Wales centre Jonathan Davies should start against Ireland if he is fit, according to former captain Gareth Thomas.

Davies is back in the squad after playing a half for the Scarlets on Saturday, his first game since a chest injury in November.

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It was a big game for Justin Tipuric against Italy, he needed to prove himself in the tackle area and he didn't quite manage to pinch a ball

Gwyn Jones Former Wales captain

Scott Williams scored a try and made another in Wales' 23-15 win over Italy, but Thomas thinks Davies should return.

"Jonathan Davies and Jamie Roberts complement each other," Thomas said.

"I would put him back in... even though Scott Williams gives us a different aspect, I think we're comfortable with our centre pairing."

Although it was hard to fault Williams' display against the Azzurri in Cardiff, Thomas - who won 100 caps for Wales at centre, wing and full-back - feels Davies should be reunited with British and Irish Lions centre partner Roberts.

"It's a pairing that is tried and trusted, and going to somewhere like Ireland you need tried and trusted," Thomas told Scrum V.

"Jamie Roberts was outstanding against Italy, he was my man of the match."

But former Wales flanker Martyn Williams, who like Thomas won a century of caps for his country, believes coach Warren Gatland will keep faith with the midfield that started against Italy.

"I think he'll stick with the pairing. I don't know how Jon got on [for Scarlets] but it's a tough call," Williams said.

"It's a great position to be in to have three world-class centres, but I think with the intensity of the game next week it's difficult to find your match fitness there so I think he'll stick with the boys from Saturday."

Scrum V analysis - Ireland

Another welcome selection dilemma for Gatland is the return to fitness of flanker Sam Warburton, with the Wales captain making his comeback from injury off the bench against Italy.

With Warburton effective at both open-side and blind-side, if he is to return to the starting XV against Ireland, it would mean either Justin Tipuric or Dan Lydiate dropping out in Dublin.

"I think he'll start and I think he'll start at seven," said former Wales captain and open-side Gwyn Jones.

"It was a big game for Justin Tipuric against Italy, he needed to prove himself in the tackle area and he didn't quite manage to pinch a ball or to win a 'jackal' penalty.

"That's the thing that separates him and Sam Warburton, he's got the rest of the game.

"What Warren Gatland said after the game was he was a little bit disappointed at how competitive they were in the tackle area in defence, and that's what Sam delivers so well - the turnovers.

"I think Sam will start at seven and Lydiate will stay at six."

Ireland began their campaign on Sunday, easing to a 28-6 win over Scotland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.