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Wales v Ireland talking points

Wales tackle Ireland at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Friday as this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship resumes.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at some key talking points ahead of the countries' 125th meeting.

A NIGHT FOR LIONS AUDITIONS?

British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland will announce his squad for the New Zealand tour this summer in 41 days' time, and there will be plenty of candidates treading the boards on Friday. Interestingly for Gatland, some of them go to head to head - rival scrum-halves Rhys Webb and Conor Murray, hookers Ken Owens and Rory Best, plus all four flankers in Sam Warburton, Justin Tipuric, CJ Stander and Sean O'Brien, for instance - so it is a selection shop window packed with high-class items. There are just two rounds of Six Nations action left for Gatland to assess potential Lions candidates, and Friday night in Cardiff is an occasion that warrants close scrutiny.

WALES NEED NORTH'S LIGHT TO SHINE

Juggernaut wing George North is among world rugby's most dangerous attacking forces when on top form but he has struggled in the Test arena this season. He scored a try against Italy, playing through the pain barrier after suffering a thigh injury, then missed the England game before experiencing an afternoon to forget as Scotland - and their wings Tommy Seymour and Tim Visser in particular - sent Wales packing at Murrayfield a fortnight ago. North, who has scored 28 tries for Wales in 67 Tests, needs a big game, but he would not be alone from a Welsh perspective as they strive to avoid suffering three successive Six Nations defeats for the first time since 2007.

IRELAND AND THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE

Ireland boss Joe Schmidt admitted this week that his side were "frustrated" around the scrums when they last faced Wales in Cardiff two years ago. As on that occasion, top English referee Wayne Barnes will be in charge this time around, so it will be intriguing to see how events unfold, particularly during inevitably-ferocious forward exchanges. In a general observation, Schmidt said: "We play off more scrums than anyone else in the championship, and it's incredibly infuriating when teams that don't tend to play off scrums get rewarded for the way they approach the scrum."

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