Lyn Jones: Byrne should start against France
February 6, 2013
Lee Byrne has been out of the Wales reckoning recently © Getty Images
Former Ospreys boss Lyn Jones has called on Wales to utilise Lee Byrne against the French on Saturday.
Byrne currently turns out in the Top 14 Orange for Clermont Auvergne and Jones believes the fullback's knowledge of the men he would come up against could help Wales halt their eight-match losing run. Byrne last played for the national side during the 2011 World Cup but with Wales struggling for form, Byrne could provide the perfect answer to their selection dilemmas in the back three, according to the London Welsh boss.
"Rob Howley's got some tough calls and he might choose to go with the same team, give them confidence and the chance to hit back," Jones told the Western Telegraph. "Leigh Halfpenny's got to play because of his goalkicking but I would certainly find a place for Lee Byrne in the side.
"He is a little bit more of an attacking threat out wide and an experienced campaigner who hits some nice angles from full-back, so that's one change I would certainly make."
Several of Wales' players will be sweating on whether they have done enough to get the nod following their poor first-half showing against Ireland on Saturday which saw them go into the break 23-3 down. Prop Gethin Jenkins, hooker Matthew Rees and even skipper Sam Warburton could be among those who come under close scrutiny and while coach Rob Howley is ultimately unlikely to make sweeping changes players such as Paul James, Richard Hibbard and Justin Tipuric have strong claims up-front.
"When you don't play as well as you can play you come under pressure, because there are good individuals underneath you who want that jersey," Wales assistant coach Mark Jones said. "Pressure is part of this sport, part of your job. Player selection is down to form and injury. Ours, for the first game, was predominantly around who we had available.
"In top-level sport there's not much in it. It's about getting the last two or three per cent right on the day and, if you do that, more often than not you will come out on the winning side. I know it's a cliche, but all we can focus on is the next game. That has been the strength of this group the last three or four years and, more often than not, we have been successful.
"Do we give the players an opportunity to go out and redeem themselves or do we try and freshen things up and bring some fresh blood in? Those are the type of things coaches have got to make decisions on. They are not easy ones, to be honest with you."
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