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Gatland plays it safe with Jones

Wales have adopted a safety-first approach with their former captain Ryan Jones in an attempt to avoid another World Cup injury calamity.

The Ospreys number will eight sits out Saturday's final World Cup warm-up game against Argentina in order to rest a troublesome calf muscle. Jones had been due to skipper Wales for a record-equalling 28th occasion with last season's captain Matthew Rees already out of the World Cup through injury and current leader Sam Warburton being rested.

"I think I would be worried if Ryan was starting on Saturday," said coach Warren Gatland. "The risk of him starting is that potentially it could injure the calf and rule him out of next week's training. It is just precautionary. It gives him another week to recover. We are making a sensible decision - we just want to make sure he is right."

He added: "Experience and leadership is also important for us. Ryan is able to cover a few positions in terms of eight, six and in the second row as well. A player of that quality, and who has the flexibility in other roles, is important for us.

"He's very disappointed. He wanted to play, but it was about making the decision of him (Jones) having missed out on two other World Cups, why jeopardise anything by playing on Saturday?"

Gatland has already seen Rees (hooker), centre Gavin Henson (wrist) and wing Morgan Stoddart (broken leg) sidelined from World Cup contention, so 53 times-capped Jones' condition demanded caution with the final 30-man World Cup squad announcement set for Monday.

His absence means Sale Sharks forward Andy Powell gains an 11th-hour chance to press World Cup claims, with Jonathan Thomas joining the replacements and flanker Martyn Williams marking his 99th cap by captaining the team.

Powell joined Sale from Wasps earlier this summer after being released by the London club following a pub fracas with football fans. Last year he was thrown out of Wales' RBS 6 Nations squad after he drove a a golf buggy from the team hotel in the early hours following a victory over Scotland. He was then banned from driving by Cardiff magistrates.

He subsequently rejoined the squad, but suffered an injury in the opening Six Nations game against England last season and has seen Warburton, Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau form a powerful back-row unit in his absence.

"It is an opportunity for Andy to start on Saturday. I have spoken to Tony Hanks (Sale coach) on a number of occasions, and they've been very impressed with him up there," Gatland said. "Andy was initially disappointed he wasn't selected for this game. He now gets a chance to start and to show what sort of physical impact he is capable of making."


From Belfast Telegraph