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Page last updated at 19:34 GMT, Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Scarlets hooker Ken Owens ready to seize Wales chance

Venue: Millennium Stadium Date: Friday, 26 February Kick-off: 2000 GMT
Coverage: Exclusively live on BBC ONE, BBC HD channel, Red Button and online, full commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, Radio Wales and Radio Cymru, live text commentary and score updates on BBC Sport website

Owens thrilled by Wales call

New Wales hooker Ken Owens says he will not be found wanting if given his chance in this year's Six Nations.

"It's a huge honour for myself, my family and everyone who has supported me," Owens told BBC Sport Wales.

"I'm concentrating on facing Leinster for the Scarlets then looking forward to joining Wales, and, who knows, I may get my chance on the pitch."

Wales called the 23-year-old into their squad for the 26 February game with France to cover hooker injuries.

Matthew Rees is still struggling with a groin problem and Gareth Williams hurt his knee in the win over Scotland.


Huw Bennett is the other hooker, while Owens took the squad place of flanker Andy Powell, dropped for indiscipline.

Williams' bruised knee will be monitored by Wales, along with Rees.

The Lions' first-choice number two suffered a groin injury in the autumn and returned for the Scarlets last month, only to suffer a re-occurrence of the problem.

Ken has been staking a strong claim for international honours this season

Scarlets coach Nigel Davies

Rees says he hopes to return to training this week and has targeted the France game, although that would seem unlikely.

He hopes to avoid surgery at this stage, but that could be the option if the problem persists.

That could open the way for his regional team-mate Owens, whose international ambitions were backed by former Wales captain Robert Jones last autumn.

The Carmarthen-born youngster has been in impressive form for the Scarlets, and many were surprised when Bennett made the Wales squad ahead of either him or Richard Hibbard.

"This year, for the first time in my professional career, I've played a lot of rugby," said Owens.

Limping Wales prop Gethin Jenkins is helped off during the Scotland game
Limping Wales prop Gethin Jenkins is helped off during the Scotland game

"It's nice to be recognised for my performances and the consistency that I've shown."

Scarlets coach Nigel Davies added: "Ken has been staking a strong claim for international honours this season, he is playing some superb rugby and he is playing it consistently.

"We are pleased for him that he will have an opportunity to show what he is capable of at national level."

Loose-head prop Gethin Jenkins looks a major doubt for the France showdown after a recurrence of his calf injury.

The British and Irish Lions front-rower was short of fitness because of the problem and was only named on the bench for Wales' dramatic victory over Scotland.

Jenkins replaced Paul James in the second half in Cardiff but lasted barely 12 minutes before limping off.

There is as-yet no sign of a recall for Dwayne Peel, who is back after a groin strain.

The 2005 Lions scrum-half missed Wales' opening weekend defeat away to England and the win over Scotland, but was fit enough to come off the bench for six minutes of Sale's 22-16 Guinness Premiership defeat at Wasps on Sunday.

Scrum V's Wales v Scotland analysis

Fellow scrum-half Mike Phillips is also on the road to recovery from the ankle ligament injury that has kept him out since October, and is set to play a part when the Ospreys host Connacht on Sunday.

Gareth Cooper has struggled at scrum-half in the absence of Phillips and Peel, Wales coach Warren Gatland reluctant to start with youngsters Richie Rees or Martin Roberts.

Jonathan Thomas has been widely tipped to move from lock to take Powell's vacated blind-side flanker berth.

That would leave Wales needing an entirely new second row as Alun Wyn Jones is out injured, Bradley Davies, Deiniol Jones and Luke Charteris the men in contention.

The Wales team for the Millennium Stadium showdown with France is expected to be named on Monday, 22 February.

Wales' 34-man Six Nations squad:

Backs: Gareth Cooper, Leigh Halfpenny, Tom James, Richard Rees, Jamie Roberts, Tom Shanklin (all Cardiff Blues) Dan Biggar, Andrew Bishop, Lee Byrne, James Hook, Kristian Phillips, Tom Prydie, Shane Williams (all Ospreys), Jonathan Davies, Stephen Jones, Martin Roberts (all Scarlets).

Forwards: Ken Owens (Scarlets), Bradley Davies, Gethin Jenkins, Deiniol Jones, Sam Warburton, Gareth Williams, Martyn Williams (all Cardiff Blues), Huw Bennett, Ian Gough, Paul James, Adam Jones, Ryan Jones, Jonathan Thomas (all Ospreys), Matthew Rees (Scarlets), Luke Charteris, Dan Lydiate (both Newport Gwent Dragons), Eifion Lewis-Roberts (Sale Sharks), Rhys Gill (Saracens).

Scrum V looks ahead to Wales v France

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see also
Jones boost for Ospreys and Wales
01 Apr 10 |  Welsh
Powell removed from Wales squad
15 Feb 10 |  Welsh
France suffer double injury blow
24 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Hooker Owens stakes Wales claim
21 Sep 09 |  Welsh
Hooker Rees hopes to face France
11 Feb 10 |  Welsh
Peel poised for Six Nations boost
11 Feb 10 |  Welsh
Roberts backs Byrne on trip claim
14 Feb 10 |  Welsh
Six Nations thriller to remember
13 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Wales 31-24 Scotland
13 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations table
10 Aug 06 |  Tables
Wales' rugby fixtures
26 Jun 07 |  Welsh
Wales rugby results archive
15 Oct 03 |  Welsh
Coming up next on Scrum V...
03 Nov 08 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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