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Phillips fast-tracked for Wales

British and Irish Lions scrum-half Mike Phillips has won a startling recall to Wales duty - after only 40 minutes of rugby in four months.

Phillips will be on the bench for Friday night's RBS 6 Nations clash against title favourites France in Cardiff.

The 27-year-old only began his comeback from a serious ankle injury during Ospreys' narrow Magners League victory over Connacht on Sunday, but Wales coach Warren Gatland has wasted no time summoning Phillips into the Test arena, naming him as back-up for Cardiff Blues number nine Richie Rees.

Rees replaces his Cardiff Blues colleague Gareth Cooper in one of four changes and a positional switch following Wales' dramatic 31-24 success against Scotland nine days ago.

Elsewhere, hooker Huw Bennett takes over from the injured Gareth Williams to complete an entire Ospreys front row, and there is an all-Blues second-row partnership of Bradley Davies and Deiniol Jones, with Jonathan Thomas switching from lock to flanker.

Thomas fills the back-row vacancy created by Andy Powell's axing from the Wales squad after he was charged with drink-driving last week.

Davies, who is currently mourning the death of his mother Cheryl, joins Rees and Jones in making a first Six Nations start. Jones, 32, first played for Wales in 2000 but only six further caps followed, including two substitute appearances during the 2008 Grand Slam season.

And he has gained Gatland's vote above Newport Gwent Dragons' Luke Charteris and experienced Ospreys forward Ian Gough in an area of the team that required close attention after elbow surgery sidelined Alun-Wyn Jones.

Wales team to play France in the RBS 6 Nations Championship at the Millennium Stadium on Friday. L Byrne (Ospreys); L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), J Hook (Ospreys), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), S Williams (Ospreys); S Jones (Scarlets), R Rees (Cardiff Blues); P James (Ospreys), H Bennett (Ospreys), A Jones (Ospreys), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), D Jones (Cardiff Blues), J Thomas (Ospreys), M Williams (Cardiff Blues), R Jones (Ospreys, capt).

Replacements: K Owens (Scarlets), R Gill (Saracens), L Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues), M Phillips (Ospreys), A Bishop (Ospreys), T Shanklin (Ospreys).


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