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Last Updated:  Thursday, 20 February, 2003, 09:44 GMT
Wales turn to Humphreys
Jonathan Humphreys discusses tactics with Wales coach Steve Hansen
Humphreys hasn't played for Wales since 1999
Jonathan Humphreys will make a sensational return to international rugby as Wales captain against England in the RBS Six Nations Championship on Saturday.

The Bath hooker was not even in the 32-man squad at the start of the tournament, but has been put in charge of Saturday's team to face England in Cardiff.

He last led Wales six years ago, in March 1997, coincidentally against England, and will replace Pontypridd's Mefin Davies in the No 2 shirt.

Jonathan Humphreys Factfile
1969: Born Bridgend, 27 February.
1989: Joins Cardiff RFC.
1995: Makes Wales debut v New Zealand in World Cup match; appointed captain after tournament.
1997: Replaced as skipper after 17 matches (six wins).
1999: Wins last of 33 caps in World Cup match v Japan.
2002: Leaves Cardiff for Bath RFC.
2003: Makes shock return to Wales side as captain.

Humphreys, who celebrates his 34th birthday a week on Thursday, is believed to have accepted leadership duties following a meeting with Wales coach Steve Hansen in Cardiff earlier on Wednesday.

"It is a huge surprise," said Humphreys.

"It is something that you would never, ever turn down, but this is definitely not long-term. I see it as helping out, and I am more than happy to do so.

"It is all a bit surreal, but if you look at the hooking situation then there are an unusual number of injuries and there are a lot of people who would have been picked ahead of me - I am the first to admit that."

Humphreys' appointment means the demotion of Colin Charvis, with the Swansea back-row forward also losing his starting place.

Charvis has been under pressure to remain as skipper following Wales' shock 30-22 defeat against Italy in Rome last weekend, having captained his country eight times.

Humphrey's Bath colleague Gavin Thomas - normally an openside flanker - will replace Charvis in the back row, while another Bath man, Gareth Cooper, starts instead of Dwayne Peel at scrum-half.

Hansen has made seven changes in personnel in all following last weekend's defeat at the Stadio Flaminio.

Iestyn Harris, given the No 10 jersey after injuries to Stephen Jones and Neil Jenkins, finds himself back on the bench as Pontypridd rookie Ceri Sweeney makes his first start.

Injury to Llanelli wing Mark Jones means full-back Rhys Williams moving to the wing, with Swansea's Kevin Morgan returning at full-back.

His Swansea colleague Mark Taylor returns in the centre at the expense of Llanelli's Leigh Davies, although the excellent Tom Shanklin will move to inside centre to accommodate Taylor at No 13.

The other change in the team will bring Llanelli's Dafydd Jones in at blindside flanker to replace Michael Owen.

Second row Steve Williams has recovered from his back injury to resume in the engine room with Robert Sidoli.

Humphreys has captained Wales 17 times, winning 33 caps overall, but has not played for Wales since going on as a replacement against Japan in the 1999 World Cup.

Since leaving Cardiff to join Bath last summer he has enjoyed a new lease of life, turning in several quality performances for the Zurich Premiership club.

But he now faces undoubtedly the biggest challenge of an international career that began in 1995 - attempting to transform Welsh fortunes against the clear Six Nations tournament favourites.



Wales: K Morgan (Swansea); R Williams (Cardiff), M Taylor (Swansea), T Shanklin (Saracens), G Thomas (Bridgend); C Sweeney (Pontypridd), G Cooper (Bath); I Thomas (Llanelli), J Humphreys (Bath, capt), B Evans (Swansea), R Sidoli (Pontypridd), S Williams (Northampton), D Jones (Llanelli), M Williams (Cardiff), G Thomas (Bath).
Reps: G Williams (Bridgend), G Jenkins (Pontypridd), G Llewellyn (Neath), C Charvis (Swansea), D Peel (Llanelli), I Harris (Cardiff), M Watkins (Llanelli).

England: J Robinson (Sale Sharks); D Luger (Harlequins), W Greenwood (Harlequins), C Hodgson (Sale Sharks), B Cohen (Northampton); J Wilkinson (Newcastle), K Bracken (Saracens); G Rowntree (Leicester), S Thompson (Northampton), R Morris (Northampton), M Johnson (Leicester, capt), B Kay (Leicester),R Hill (Saracens), N Back (Leicester), L Dallaglio (Wasps).
Reps: M Regan (Leeds), M Worsley (London Irish), D Grewcock (Bath), J Worsley (Wasps), A Gomarsall (Gloucester), P Christophers (Bristol Shoguns), J Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester).





Links to more Internationals stories


 

WATCH AND LISTEN
New Wales skipper Jonathan Humphreys
"I thought my international days were over - especially as captain"


Wales coach Steve Hansen
"We felt Jonathan would be comfortable in leadership"


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