Rugby: Jenkins makes seven changes for France

20th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

CARDIFF, Feb 19, 2007 (AFP) - Wales coach Gareth Jenkins made seven changes to his starting side Monday for this Saturday's Six Nations rugby union international away to leaders and reigning champions France in Paris as they look to bounce back from their 21-9 defeat against Scotland last time out.

CARDIFF, Feb 19, 2007 (AFP) - Wales coach Gareth Jenkins made seven changes to his starting side Monday for this Saturday's Six Nations rugby union international away to leaders and reigning champions France in Paris as they look to bounce back from their 21-9 defeat against Scotland last time out.

In a bid to combat France's powerful pack, the under-pressure Jenkins - who has lost both his Six Nations games in charge of Wales following a 19-9 first round defeat at home to Ireland - has gone for a new front row.

Hooker Matthew Rees is set to make his first Six Nations start while props Chris Horsman and Gethin Jenkins have been recalled. Elsewhere in the pack, lock Ian Gough replaces Robert Sidoli, now no longer in the matchday 22. Behind the scrum, Lee Byrne is at full-back after a knee injury and replaces Kevin Morgan, who suffered a broken jaw during the defeat at Murrayfield.

Tom Shanklin, a second-half replacement against Scotland, is at outside centre.

Meanwhile Shane Williams is back on the right wing, with Cardiff flyer Chris Czekaj dropped, after missing Wales's first two matches with a groin problem as his side go in search of their first try during this season's Championship at the Stade de France.

Jamie Robinson moves from midfield to the bench, with Mark Jones going from right wing to left wing in a positional switch.

"It's obviously a boost to have someone of Shane's ability and experience back in the fold," said Jenkins. "The same applies to Tom Shanklin who makes his first start of this campaign and also Lee Byrne who has been called into the squad.

"But it's also fair to say we would have preferred to be easing these players in under different circumstances," the former Llanelli coach added.

"None of the three individuals mentioned have played much rugby in recent weeks, but that is the situation we are in and the likes of Tom, with 37 caps, and Shane, who is nearing the half century, are more than capable of meeting the challenge ahead.

"Up front we have looked at the physicality of our front row and have presented a different dynamic for the French match than that against Scotland.

"We were not at our best in that area at Murrayfield and we have looked for extra power in the scrum this time out."

Australia-born Brent Cockbain provides the second row cover ahead of Sidoli and returns to a Wales squad for the first time since injuring his hamstring against Fiji in November 2005.

Former captain Colin Charvis failed to win a place in the 22 with Newport back-row forward Jonathan Thomas retaining his bench spot.

France, who've beaten Italy and Ireland this season, lead the Six Nations on points difference from England, the only other team who've won both of their first two matches in this season's tournament.

Wales (15-1)

Lee Byrne (Neath Swansea Ospreys); Shane Williams (Neath Swansea Ospreys), Tom Shanklin (Cardiff), James Hook (Neath Swansea Ospreys), Mark Jones (Llanelli); Stephen Jones (Llanelli, capt), Dwayne Peel (Llanelli); Ryan Jones (Neath Swansea Ospreys), Martyn Williams (Cardiff), Alix Popham (Llanelli); Alun Wyn Jones (Neath Swansea Ospreys), Ian Gough (Newport Gwent Dragons);  Chris Horsman (Worcester/ENG), Matthew Rees (Llanelli), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff)

Replacements: Rhys Thomas (Cardiff), Duncan Jones (Neath Swansea Ospreys), Brent Cockbain (Neath Swansea Ospreys), Jonathan Thomas (Neath Swansea Ospreys), Mike Phillips (Cardiff), Ceri Sweeney (Newport Gwent Dragons), Jamie Robinson (Cardiff)

Copuright AFP

SUbject: French news

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