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Page last updated at 13:00 GMT, Thursday, 17 March 2011

Six Nations: Wales recall North for Shane Williams

Six Nations: FRANCE v WALES
Venue: Stade de France, Paris Date: Sat, 19 March Kick-off: 1945 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC One HD & online from 1930-2200; Listen on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Radio 5 Live; Text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles

North 'ready' for France test

George North will replace Shane Williams on the wing for Wales' Six Nations finale in France on Saturday.

Wales' record try-scorer Williams is out of the trip to Paris with a knee injury and misses his personal Six Nations swansong.

British and Irish Lions prop Adam Jones returns after recovering from an elbow injury, replacing tight-head Craig Mitchell, who has a shoulder injury.

With one loss, Wales still have a slim chance of winning the Championship.

"We are going into the final round of the Championship in second place and still with a shot at the title," said Wales head coach Warren Gatland.

"That's pleasing, but it is not good enough yet, we need to finish the job and win in France.

"That is the only element of this weekend we can control and it is vitally important that we maintain our focus on what will be one of the toughest challenges of this campaign."

We just think he's [George North] a real quality player of the future, somebody who's going to be special and he's still learning his trade. But in a year or two I think he's going to be an absolute star in the game

Wales coach Warren Gatland on teenager George North

Wales need to win in France and Grand Slam hopefuls England would have to lose in Ireland - plus there would need to be a 42-point swing to the Welsh - if Warren Gatland's men were to claim the 2011 Championship.

The loss of 53-try wing Williams, who is expected to be out for up to three months and set to miss title-chasing Ospreys' bid to retain the Magners League, is a blow.

Williams, 34, has said his injury was triggered in his attempt to jump over Luke Fitzgerald in the 19-13 win over Ireland.

Williams had been due to make his final Six Nations appearance in France after confirming Saturday would be his last in the tournament before retirement. He scored 22 of his 53 tries in Six Nations competition.

But 18-year-old Scarlet North, who scored a try-double on his international debut against world champions South Africa in November 2010, now comes in after returning for the Scarlets after three months out in February and starred in a try-scoring win over Edinburgh.

Adam Jones
Adam Jones will win his 69th Wales cap in France on Saturday

The introduction of North, for his first Six Nations appearance, and Jones, are the only two changes from the victory over Ireland on 12 March.

Gatland has told North to enjoy the experience rather than feel under undue pressure as he plays for Wales for the first time away from home.

"We just think he's a real quality player of the future, somebody who's going to be special and he's still learning his trade," said Gatland.

"But in a year or two I think he's going to be an absolute star in the game.

"It was a hard call on someone like Morgan Stoddart who's done really well for us, trained well, so it was a toss-of-the-coin decision in which way we went.

"But we see George as a real player of the future. He's playing on the left wing and possibly in the long-term future he maybe a midfield option for us as well.

"But he's hugely talented. He's a very intelligent rugby player, works really hard and at 18 and 105kg it's not bad assets to start off with in his international career.

"It's his first game away from home as well so he's pretty excited about it and we're looking forward to what possible impact he will have on the match."

A try tribute to Shane Williams

Meanwhile Adam Jones has only played 23 minutes rugby in the last two months - as an Ospreys replacement in their 37-6 Magners League win against Glasgow on 5 March - since needing surgery on his right elbow, an injury picked up against London Irish in January.

But the 30-year-old says he has almost no ill effects from the problem.

"Adam Jones is quite a player to have coming back into your side, he is a British Lion and one of the best players in his position in the world so we are very happy that he has timed his return from injury to perfection," said skills coach Neil Jenkins.

"Craig Mitchell has done a great job for us so far this campaign, but it is reassuring to know Adam is there to slot straight back in."

Richard Hibbard, John Yapp, Jonathan Thomas and Rob McCusker are on the bench to provide cover for the pack, while experienced duo Stephen Jones and Dwayne Peel provide the half-back cover.

Scarlets wing Morgan Stoddart is also on the bench after missing out on a recall to the starting line-up to North.

"Morgan Stoddart has been unlucky, he was definitely in the running to come onto the wing and there was not a lot in it," added Jenkins.

Wales team to face France: Lee Byrne; Leigh Halfpenny, Jamie Roberts, Jonathan Davies, George North; James Hook, Mike Phillips; Paul James, Matthew Rees (capt), Adam Jones, Bradley Davies, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton, Ryan Jones.

Replacements: Richard Hibbard, John Yapp, Jonathan Thomas, Rob McCusker, Dwayne Peel, Stephen Jones, Morgan Stoddart.

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see also
France 28-9 Wales
19 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Williams 'will not go on forever'
18 Mar 11 |  Welsh
Williams set for three months out
18 Mar 11 |  Welsh
Prop Jones returns to Wales squad
14 Mar 11 |  Welsh
Williams confirms Six Nations end
14 Mar 11 |  Welsh
Wales can be upbeat - Halfpenny
15 Mar 11 |  Welsh
Lievremont shrugs off sack talk
15 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Six big-name changes for France
13 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Wales 19-13 Ireland
12 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Williams dreading retirement date
18 Feb 11 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales
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03 Nov 08 |  Welsh

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