DFP Header Area

Shane straight back into starting line up

Guinness PRO12 Editor

2 Feb 2011


Ospreys legend Shane Williams will make his first appearance since November when he starts for Wales this weekend.

Williams hasn’t played Magners League rugby since October having shoulder surgery after Wales’ November defeat to South Africa.

But the 33-year-old triple Magners League winner has done enough in training this week to convince Wales coach Warren Gatland that he deserves a starting spot in the Six Nations opener against England on Friday night.

There is no such luck for clubmate Lee Byrne, however, as the full back is forced to settle for a place on the bench as James Hook switches to 15.

Blues centre Jamie Roberts makes his first international appearance since the summer as he partners Jon Davies of the Scarlets, while Morgan Stoddart wins a recall for the first time since autumn 2008.

Stoddart has been named on the right wing, with Lions pair Mike Phillips and Stephen Jones selected at halfback and Scarlets hooker Matthew Rees retaining the captaincy.

Ospreys duo Craig Mitchell and Paul James take over the proping duties from the injured Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins, with young flankers Dan Lydiate and Sam Warburton preferred to the likes of Blues veteran Martyn Williams who missed out on a Six Nations squad place altogether.

In-form Scarlets fly-half cum full back Rhys Priestland could make his Wales debut after being named on a replacements bench that also includes former captain Ryan Jones and the recalled Dwayne Peel.

“In the front row we have two guys who have done well at regional level and know each others games either side of our leader and the Lions hooker in Matthew Rees, so we are comfortable with the selection,” said Wales assistant coach Rob Howley.

“The second row has been consistent in recent times and we have two good youngsters who have both been playing exceptionally well coming into the back row.

“Dan (Lydiate) was magnificent for us in the autumn and Sam (Warburton) has been going great for the Blues in Europe recently and there is a nice balance there with the ball carrying abilities of Andy Powell completing the trio.

“This is going to be a battle of inches and not yards and we know the pack can dominate like they did in our Autumn games we are in with a good chance.

“We did debate selection at fly half and elsewhere in the backs but we feel we have settled on the right pairing there with the experience they offer.

“Lee Byrne misses out solely through virtue of the fact he has had limited game time after injury and he will offer us some impact from the bench, which is fairly experienced in itself and will undoubtedly be utilised during the evening.

“We are playing England at the home of Welsh rugby at the start of the Rugby World Cup year so we are looking to get ourselves of to a great start and create some momentum and I can’t think of a better place for a Welshman to do that.”

Wales (vs England in Cardiff, Friday 7.45pm)

15 James Hook (Ospreys)
14 Morgan Stoddart (Scarlets)
13 Jonathan Davies (Scarlets)
12 Jamie Roberts (Blues)
11 Shane Williams (Ospreys)
10 Stephen Jones (Scarlets)
9 Mike Phillips (Ospreys)

1 Paul James (Ospreys)
2 Matthew Rees (Scarlets, captain)
3 Craig Mitchell (Ospreys)
4 Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys)
5 Bradley Davies (Blues)
6 Dan Lydiate (Dragons)
7 Sam Warburton (Blues)
8 Andy Powell (Wasps)


16 Richard Hibbard (Ospreys)
17 John Yapp (Blues)
18 Ryan Jones (Ospreys)
19 Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys)
20 Dwayne Peel (Sale)
21 Rhys Priestland (Scarlets)
22 Lee Byrne (Ospreys)