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Injured Priestland misses out


Rhys Priestland (right)

Rhys Priestland (right)

Rhys Priestland (right)

Rhys Priestland has lost his fitness battle for Wales' World Cup semi-final clash against France at Eden Park on Saturday.

Scarlets fly-half Priestland injured his shoulder during the quarter-final victory over Ireland in Wellington last weekend, forcing him off three minutes from time.

He will be replaced in the team by Perpignan-bound James Hook, with Wales coach Warren Gatland otherwise retaining the team that accounted for Ireland.

One change on the bench sees 102 times-capped Stephen Jones taking over from Hook.

Priestland was not considered for selection and he will now continue his rehabilitation over the next few days.

"Time was against Rhys," Gatland said. "But we are happy that we have the talent and ability elsewhere in the squad to cover him.

"Rhys has done everything we have asked of him, and more, during this World Cup. But when we have players of the calibre and experience of James Hook and Stephen Jones coming into the squad and starting line-up, there is no sense that Rhys' absence leaves us any weaker."

Wales have reached their first World Cup semi-final since 1987, and they possess several of the tournament's form players, including wing George North, centre Jamie Roberts, scrum-half Mike Phillips, skipper Sam Warburton and number eight Toby Faletau.

Wales team to play France in World Cup semi-final at Eden Park, Auckland on Saturday: L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues); G North (Scarlets), J Davies (Scarlets), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), S Williams (Ospreys); J Hook (Perpignan), M Phillips (Bayonne); G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), H Bennett (Ospreys), A Jones (Ospreys), L Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), A-W Jones (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements: L Burns (Newport Gwent Dragons), P James (Ospreys), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), R Jones (Ospreys), L Williams (Cardiff Blues), S Jones (Scarlets), S Williams (Scarlets).

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