Gatland tweaks line-up for Ireland showdown
October 6, 2011
Winger Shane Williams will be back on international duty in Wellington on Saturday © Getty Images
Wales coach Warren Gatland has made four changes to his side for Saturday's Rugby World Cup quarter-final clash with Ireland in Wellington.
Winger Shane Williams, centre Jonathan Davies, flanker Dan Lydiate and lock Alun Wyn Jones are all recalled to the starting line-up for the Wellington Regional Stadium showdown.
Williams returns from a leg injury to spark a positional switch for Scarlets wing George North, who moves from left to right wing to accommodate Wales' all-time top try scorer, and for Blues speedster Leigh Halfpenny, who moves from wing to fullback at the expense of Clermont's Lee Byrne. In the centres Davies returns to partner Jamie Roberts with Scott Williams moving to the bench.
Up front, Lydiate completes his return from the ankle injury he picked up earlier in the tournament, replacing Ryan Jones, who also provides cover from the bench. The final change comes in the second row with Wyn Jones promoted from bench duty to partner Luke Charteris, with lock Bradley Davies again retained as a replacement.
Elsewhere, James Hook must make do with a place on the bench despite having recovered fro a shoulder injury. He takes Stephen Jones' place who along with Byrne is omitted from the match day squad. Hook will provide cover for the backs alongside Scott Williams and Blues scrum-half Lloyd Williams. Prop Paul James and hooker Lloyd Burns are retained to provide front row cover alongside lock Davies and flanker Jones.
That means it's 'same again' for the front row of Gethin Jenkins, Huw Bennett and Adam Jones, half backs Mike Phillips and Rhys Priestland, with Toby Faletau also retained in the back row alongside captain Sam Warburton.
"This was a tough selection for us, probably one of the longest selection meetings we have ever had, where we went through every possible permutation available to us," said coach Warren Gatland. "It's a great position to be in when you are struggling to find a place for players in the squad and the starting line-up, instead of having to think who can make up the numbers, which has sometimes been the case.
"This is Rugby World Cup quarter-final time and we had some tough decisions to make with the likes of Dan, Shane and James returning from injury and the side having done so well in their recent absence. But this is the side we have gone with and, as a 22, we believe it is the side which gives us the best chance of winning this game against an Ireland team which not only topped their group but beat the Wallabies on the way."
Wales: L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues); G North (Scarlets), J Davies (Scarlets), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), S Williams (Ospreys); R Priestland (Scarlets), M Phillips (Bayonne); G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), H Bennett (Ospreys), A Jones (Ospreys), L Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), A-W Jones (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).
Replacements: L Burns (Newport Gwent Dragons), P James (Ospreys), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), R Jones (Ospreys), L Williams (Cardiff Blues), J Hook (Perpignan), S Williams (Scarlets).
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