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Three Welshmen who could end Ireland's World Cup dream

Wales’s young and exciting line-up has been making waves at this World Cup. Meet the stars most likely to do some damage against Ireland on Saturday morning.

Jamie Roberts storms the Fijian line.
Jamie Roberts storms the Fijian line.
Image: David Davies/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Jamie Roberts

Position: centre

With nearly forty full international caps to his name, Wales’ inside-centre has a claim to experience belying his 24 years.

He’s endured his fair share of frustration since starring alonside Brian O’Driscoll in the 2009 Lions tour of South Africa, but Roberts has grown into his role as Wales’ go-to centre-channel runner in recent months, bringing a robust physicality and efficiency to a back-line that’s always ready to take advantage of an opportune breakthrough.

Ireland’s slightly lightweight midfield (sorry, lads) will need to be constantly alert to the threat posed by his gravity-defying combination of bulk and pace if they’re to graduate to a place in the semi-finals.

Sam Warburton

Position: openside flanker

While Ireland’s back row dynamo Sean O’Brien was busy folding Player of Pool C honours into the crook of a musclebound arm, Wales’s 22-year-old captain was doing likewise with Pool D’s equivalent accolade.

Warburton has been on of the few genuinely stand-out players of this World Cup, impressing not only with his proficiency at set pieces and ceaseless dynamism at the breakdown, but with his knack for gaining extra yards in contact. His six steals and 20 tackles during Wales’s tournament opener with South Africa must surely rank among the individual performances of the tournament.

Not only that, but the flanker recently revealed that he’s abstained from alcohol for six months in preparation for Wales’ World Cup campaign, meaning his commitment is unlikely be an issue.

George North

Position: wing

Since marking his international debut with two tries against South Africa last November, North has accumulated a career’s worth of international plaudits and records.

When he hits full stride, all 6’3” and 105kg motoring in the same direction, North doesn’t just become a human battering ram, but a human battering ram with a proficiency for timing offloads to his inside. Though he’ll likely share duties on the left wing against Ireland with Shane Williams, his is a talent Tommy Bowe and Rob Kearney are unlikely to underestimate.

Nice touch for a big lad? Indeed.

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