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Nick Tompkins pushing for Wales starting place after debut try | Sport


Wales are pondering their midfield options ahead of Saturday’s visit to Ireland, with Nick Tompkins a contender to start after making a try-scoring debut from the bench against Italy and Owen Watkin available again after injury.

George North started at outside-centre, scoring one try and having another ruled out for a knock-on in the build-up, but Wales have the option of moving him back to the wing to accommodate Tompkins, although that would mean dropping Johnny McNicholl, who had an enterprising debut.

“Nick made an impact and put up his hand for selection,” said Byron Hayward, Wales’s defence coach. “He took to the international stage as if he had been there for years. He is a very good defensive player. I don’t think many players grow up wanting to be the best tackler in the world, but he comes from an environment at Saracens that has a defence-first attitude. With Owen back and knowing what he brings, it will be an interesting debate.”

One player who will not be considered when Wales finalise their side on Wednesday is another Saracens man, the full-back Liam Williams, who has not played since being injured during last year’s World Cup. He has been ruled out for at least the next two matches and may not be available again until the final round, but the scrum-half Gareth Davies is in contention after missing the 42-0 victory over Italy.

“It would be nice to get Liam back, but Leigh Halfpenny had a great game at full-back against Italy,” Hayward added. “We had a good win but we know it will be far more difficult in Dublin. We have not won there for eight years and have not started games well. We have also identified the period after half-time as being critical and have to make sure we are on the right side of the scoreboard then.”

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