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Published: 09:59 | 4/2/16

Gatland: Ref has influenced selection

Gethin Jenkins dropped for clash with Ireland

Warren Gatland has stated the appointment of referee Jerome Garces influenced his selection of Rob Evans at prop over Gethin Jenkins for Sunday's Six Nations opener in Ireland.

Although the New Zealander said he still expected Jenkins to play a big part in this season's Six Nations, he confirmed the 35-year-old will not feature in the 2019 World Cup and his selection decisions will also be influenced by the need to nurture his replacement.

"That was part of the conscious decision in terms of that selection," Gatland said. "He's (Garces) tough at scrum time. He did penalise us a few times, but we were very happy with his control of the game.

"And I think at the moment, from the performances that we've seen recently, he and Nigel Owens are definitely the top referees in world rugby.

"We've spoken on a few occasions during the World Cup about potentially what happens to him (Jenkins).

"Those discussions have been positive in making sure we respect what he's done for Welsh rugby.

"He knows he's not going to get through to 2019 and we've spoken about how do we manage the process where we bring someone on as a replacement, and his potential exit strategy as well.

"He's a professional, he's been around a long time and I have no doubt that when he gets his opportunity he will come on and perform.”

Jenkins’ omission is one of four changes Gatland has made from the side which narrowly lost to South Africa in October’s World cup quarter-final.

Jonathan Davies returns at centre while Justin Tipuric’s inclusion at open side flanker has caused a reshuffle which sees Dan Lydiate surprisingly missing out.

Tom James returns to the wing - five years since his last cap in place of Alex Cuthbert.

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