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Six Nations 2021: Flanker Dan Lydiate recalled as Wales omit Rhys Webb

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Dan Lydiate packs down for Wales
Back-row Dan Lydiate has impressed for Ospreys this season

Wales have recalled Ospreys back row Dan Lydiate for the 2021 Six Nations.

Lydiate, 33, last played international rugby against Australia in November 2018 in his 64th Wales cap.

Wales coach Wayne Pivac has named a 36-man squad which does not include Ospreys scrum-half Rhys Webb, although his team-mate Rhodri Jones is named as one of the props.

Wales open their Six Nations campaign against Ireland in Cardiff on 7 February.

Prop Jones last played for Wales against South Africa in June 2018 and comes in at loose-head alongside Wyn Jones and Rhys Carre, with Rob Evans and Nicky Smith both injured. Tight-head Samson Lee is also ruled out through injury.

Hooker Elliott Dee is preferred to Sam Parry, while Scarlets skipper Ken Owens returns after the British and Irish Lion missed the autumn campaign with a shoulder injury.

Ospreys second row Adam Beard is recalled while Jake Ball is named – despite being unavailable for Wales after the tournament as he leaves Scarlets to be closer to his family in Australia.

Wales captain and lock Alun Wyn Jones is battling to be fit for the opening match after damaging a knee against Italy in early December.

Lydiate is preferred to young Cardiff Blues back-rowers James Botham and Shane Lewis-Hughes who were capped in the autumn.

Regional colleague Josh Navidi is named despite having not played this season because of concussion issues and will feature for Cardiff Blues this weekend

Scarlets flanker Josh Macleod is the one uncapped player in the squad. After being named in the initial autumn squad, Macleod was ruled out of contention for selection because of a hamstring injury.

“We think Dan is the form six in the competition and has been throughout the season,” said Pivac.

“He brings a wealth of experience and he’s back playing some of his best rugby.

“We had a good look at some young players in the autumn and we know what they can do and what their work-ons are. Clear messages have been sent to those who missed out.

“James and Shane were in our discussions and both players have been spoken to.

“With Shane, that was an interesting discussion. There was a choice there between the experienced player in form (Lydiate) and the younger man.

“We feel Josh deserves an opportunity. James did well when he came in and has a big future but Josh is that bit further ahead in his physicality and we’re going to need that.”

Wales' 2021 6N fixtures

Tomos Williams returns from injury instead of Webb, with Scarlets scrum-halves Gareth Davies and Kieran Hardy also included.

“Rhys and I had a good chat his morning around the accuracy of his passing game, which he needs to work on and get those numbers back up,” said Pivac.

“We questioned his pace at the top end of the game. The other three all bring electric pace, we know that. That is something in question at the moment with Rhys but he’s not out of the loop in playing for Wales in the future.”

At fly-half, Blues’ Jarrod Evans is named alongside English-based pair Dan Biggar and Callum Sheedy.

“Jarrod was left out of the autumn series and was given parts of his game to work on, mainly the kicking side,” said Pivac.

“Neil Jenkins and Stephen Jones have been involved in that process and we’re interested to see how that’s developing.

“We know about his running game and we know he’s a gutsy defender.”

In-form Dragons centre Jamie Roberts has not been included with the four midfield options of Johnny Williams, Nick Tompkins, Owen Watkin and Jonathan Davies retained.

Amongst the backline Liam Williams is included, despite being suspended for the opening game against Ireland after being sent off playing for Scarlets against Cardiff Blues on 9 January.

Hallam Amos is recalled with Jonah Holmes dropping out through injury although there is no room for Bristol teenager Ioan Lloyd.

Ross Moriarty, James Davies, Ellis Jenkins, Gareth Anscombe, Rhys Patchell and Scott Williams were also not considered because of injury.

Wales squad

Forwards: Rhys Carre (Cardiff Blues), Wyn Jones (Scarlets), Rhodri Jones (Ospreys), Elliot Dee (Dragons) Ryan Elias (Scarlets), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Leon Brown (Dragons), Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs), Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Blues), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Adam Beard (Ospreys), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Will Rowlands (Wasps), Cory Hill (Cardiff Blues), Dan Lydiate (Ospreys), Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues), Aaron Wainwright (Dragons), Taulupe Faletau (Bath), Josh MacLeod (Scarlets), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys).

Backs: Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Tomos Williams (Cardiff Blues), Kieran Hardy (Scarlets), Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints), Callum Sheedy (Bristol Bears), Jarrod Evans (Cardiff Blues), Johnny Williams (Scarlets), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Nick Tompkins (Dragons), Owen Watkin (Ospreys), George North (Ospreys), Josh Adams (Cardiff Blues), Hallam Amos (Cardiff Blues), Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester), Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets), Liam Williams (Scarlets).

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