Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Wales make sweeping changes

Wales coach Warren Gatland has made 11 changes to the starting line-up for Monday's World Cup clash against Namibia at Stadium Taranaki.

Only centre Jonathan Davies, lock Alun-Wyn Jones, skipper Sam Warburton and number eight Toby Faletau remain from the side that defeated Pool D rivals Samoa last weekend. Fly-half Stephen Jones and back-row forward Ryan Jones both return after recovering from calf muscle injuries.

Scarlets playmaker Stephen Jones will win his 101st cap, breaking the Wales appearance record he previously jointly held with Gareth Thomas. Jones had been poised to achieve that feat against England seven weeks ago, but his calf tightened during the warm-up at Twickenham and ruled him out of action since then.

Former Wales captain Ryan Jones, meanwhile, makes his World Cup debut after missing the 2007 tournament through injury, packing down at blindside flanker alongside back-row colleagues Warburton and Toby Faletau.

Injuries sideline full-back James Hook (shoulder) and flanker Dan Lydiate (ankle), while six players - Shane Williams, Jamie Roberts, Mike Phillips, Paul James, Huw Bennett and Adam Jones - are rested from the matchday 22.

There is a first Wales start since last November for Cardiff Blues prop Gethin Jenkins, with full-back Lee Byrne among nine players making full World Cup debuts.

Uncapped Scarlets hooker Ken Owens features on the replacements' bench, where his colleagues include Cardiff Blues scrum-half Lloyd Williams, the son of former Wales number nine Brynmor Williams.

Wales require a bonus point victory against Namibia to keep them on course for a probable quarter-final appointment with Ireland in Wellington next month.

And they will encounter opponents still reeling from an 87-0 drubbing against world champions South Africa just two days ago. It will be Namibia's final game of a tournament that has seen them concede 185 points in three games.

"On the back of two tough and intensely-physical matches we have been able to make some changes to the squad, but also bring a lot of experience into the side at the same time," Gatland said.


From Belfast Telegraph