Warren Gatland pins the Six Nations favourite tag on Ireland

Wales head coach has great expectations for reigning champions

Wales head coach Warren Gatland thinks Ireland are the favourites for this year's Six Nations.

His side play Joe Schmidt's defending champions in their first match of the tournament.

Gatland's squad includes a call-up for uncapped Scarlets scrum-half Aled Davies.

The ex-Ireland head coach says it its difficult to predict what will happen, after much change in the last few months.

"They have to go in as favourites. The thing about any Irish team is that you write them off, and you do that at your peril," he said.

"We go into this tournament respecting them immensely, and particularly what they have achieved under Joe Schmidt over the last two seasons.

"I think they are favourites for the tournament, given the experience they have at knowing how to win, particularly under pressure. They have lost a couple of experienced players, but it is going to be a tough proposition for us."

The former Lions head coach also ran the rule over the other main contenders.

"There's a couple of new coaches with France and England. Ireland are defending double champions as well. They're going to be tough and we saw the way that Scotland performed at the World Cup, particularly in the quarter-final game against Australia where they were incredibly unlucky." 

Wales' Six Nations squad

Forwards

Rob Evans (Scarlets), Paul James (Ospreys), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs), Aaron Jarvis (Ospreys), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Kristian Dacey (Cardiff Blues), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Luke Charteris (Racing 92), Bradley Davies (Wasps), Dominic Day (Bath Rugby), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Josh Turnbull (Cardiff Blues), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons), James King (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Ospreys), Ross Moriarty (Gloucester Rugby), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues).

Backs

Aled Davies (Scarlets), Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues) Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Rhys Priestland (Bath Rugby), Cory Allen (Cardiff Blues), Jonathan Davies (Clermont Auvergne), Tyler Morgan (Newport Gwent Dragons), Jamie Roberts (Harlequins), Hallam Amos (Newport Gwent Dragons), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Tom James (Cardiff Blues), George North (Northampton Saints), Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), Matthew Morgan (Bristol Rugby), Liam Williams (Scarlets).