Jones calls for Canada commitment
November 11, 2008
Jones in action during the narrow defeat to the Springboks last weekend © Getty Images
Wales captain Ryan Jones will demand a "ruthless and clinical" performance from his team in Friday night's clash against Canada.
The Canadians provide Wales' final opposition before New Zealand arrive at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday week. Wales head coach Warren Gatland has made 12 changes from the side toppled 20-15 by world champions South Africa last Saturday, retaining only Jones, wing Leigh Halfpenny and centre Tom Shanklin.
Scarlets scrum-half Martin Roberts makes his Test debut, with two more newcomers on the bench in Sale Sharks prop Eifion Roberts and Ospreys fly-half Dan Biggar. Wales, who are eight places above Canada in the International Rugby Board rankings, should post an emphatic victory, shaking off any hangover inflicted by a frustrating failure to beat South Africa, despite their second-half dominance.
Jones said: "It was a difficult weekend for all involved. But we have a six-day turnaround, and we have to make sure we are fit and ready to go against Canada. The key is we put Saturday's game to bed as quickly as we possibly we can - that's the same if you win or lose.
"The most important thing is the next fixture. It is going to be a pretty tough, physical encounter, but we have got to make sure we perform with the same endeavour that we did on the weekend. We can't afford to go out there and be anything less than ruthless and clinical. That is what I will be saying to the players."
Roberts' introduction is of particular note, given Gatland looks certain to be without both premier scrum-halves - Lions Gareth Cooper and Dwayne Peel - for the November 29 clash against Australia. Because the Wallabies encounter - Wales' fourth November Test - falls outside the International Rugby Board's autumn window, their respective Guinness Premiership clubs, Sale Sharks and Gloucester, have first call that weekend.
Sale host Leicester, while Gloucester entertain Northampton, although Wales were prepared to make a deal by releasing Peel for a Premiership appointment with Worcester in three days' time, rather than him being involved against Canada. Gatland said: ``We've got to plan for the two scrum-halves not being there (against Australia).
"At the moment, with it being unlikely Dwayne Peel and Gareth Cooper will be available for the Australia game, I thought it would be pretty unfair to throw the young kid (Roberts) in against Australia without him having a run."
Roberts' Wales recognition comes at the end of a year that started with him struggling to make an impact in a star-studded Ospreys squad. "If I look back five months ago, I was getting an odd game now and again with the Ospreys, and things weren't looking promising," he said. "The move to the Scarlets has helped, and it is just about getting the opportunity to play regular rugby.
"When you play once every couple of games, you feel as if you have to go out and impress all the time. But when you know you are going to get a regular run of matches, you can play your own game. You don't feel pressured into trying to impress the coach."
Wales will be forced into another switch for the Canada fixture if full-back Morgan Stoddart fails a fitness test on his injured ankle later today. Should Stoddart be ruled out, then Halfpenny will move to full-back while Cardiff Blues wing Tom James lines up on the wing.
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