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Jones on course for World Cup bow

Former Wales captain Ryan Jones is on course to make his World Cup debut against Namibia in New Plymouth next Monday.

It has been a difficult week for Wales on the injury front, with full-back James Hook (shoulder) and flanker Dan Lydiate (ankle) both being hurt during a punishing Pool D victory over Samoa four days ago.

But Ospreys back-row forward Jones looks likely to make his comeback from a calf muscle injury as part of Wales' matchday 22 at Stadium Taranaki.

He has not played since going on as a second-half substitute when Wales tackled England in their opening World Cup warm-up fixture at Twickenham almost seven weeks ago.

The 30-year-old trained fully on Thursday, though, during a public session at Waitomo Rugby Club, which nestles close to the famous Waitomo Glow Worm Caves around 50 miles south of Hamilton.

"It looks as if Ryan has come through the session well," Wales assistant coach Rob Howley said.

"At this moment in time, he is fully fit and available for selection. Ryan was smiling and happy, which is always a good indicator - it looks as if he is up and running."

Jones, who missed the 2007 World Cup in France through injury, had initially not been expected to regain full fitness before Wales' final pool fixture against Fiji on Sunday week.

But his recovery ahead of schedule has given the Wales squad a boost as they target the bonus-point victory against Namibia that would keep them on course for a probable quarter-final appointment with Ireland in Wellington next month.

Wales coach Warren Gatland will name his team on Saturday, with several changes expected from the Samoa win, including likely starts for fly-half Stephen Jones, a new front row of Gethin Jenkins, Lloyd Burns and Craig Mitchell, plus centre Scott Williams and full-back Lee Byrne.


From Belfast Telegraph