Wales’ team to face Ireland in their Six Nations opener in Cardiff on Saturday features a large contingent of the Ospreys team who reached this season’s Heineken Champions Cup knockout stage.

The Welsh region produced a string of stunning pool stage performances, recording back-to-back wins over TOP 14 champions Montpellier Hérault Rugby, before a last-gasp win at Leicester Tigers set up a Round of 16 trip to Saracens.

Following those exploits, Wales head coach Warren Gatland has picked eight Ospreys players to start at the Principality Stadium, including six forwards.

Props Gareth Thomas and Tomas Francis are named, Adam Beard and Alun Wyn Jones form a familiar second row, while Jac Morgan and Justin Tipuric line up at blindside and openside flanker respectively.

Centre Joe Hawkins features in the Six Nations for the first time after making his Wales debut in the autumn. He partners the vastly experienced George North in midfield.

There are a further four Ospreys representatives among the replacements in hooker Scott Baldwin, scrum-half Rhys Webb, fly-half Owen Williams and wing Alex Cuthbert.

Exeter Chiefs lock Dafydd Jenkins and Leicester flanker Tommy Reffell, who helped their clubs reach the Heineken Champions Cup knockout stage, are also on the bench.