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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 March, 2004, 21:58 GMT
Llewellyn gets Wales record
Gareth Llewellyn will win his 87th cap
Gareth Llewellyn is set to equal Neil Jenkins' Wales record of 87 caps as coach Steve Hansen makes three changes to his side to face Italy on Saturday.

The veteran lock replaces Brent Cockbain, who has failed to recover from the ankle ligament damage he sustained against England last week.

Martyn Williams comes in for shoulder injury victim Jonathan Thomas, meaning Colin Charvis switches to blindside.

A late decision will be made between Iestyn Harris and Tom Shanklin at 12.

Gareth Llewellyn is expected to be a leader both on and off the field
Wales coach Steve Hansen
"We have bracketed Iestyn and Tom together and we will make a decision on who will fill the number 12 shirt later in the week," said Hansen, who will be taking charge of his last Wales game before returning to New Zealand.

"Whoever misses out will be unlucky as they have both been in good form."

Robert Sidoli and Alix Popham are brought onto the bench in place of Llewellyn and Williams.

Llewellyn, 35, made his first Wales appearance when he faced New Zealand at the old Arms Park in 1989, and he has gone on to captain his side seven times and score five international tries.

"Gareth is one of the senior players in our squad and is expected to be a leader both on and off the field," said Hansen.

"He has done this with increasing success over the last two years, he is someone who has been a great asset to his country and will continue to be so long after chooses to retire, as I believe he will make a very good coach.

Martyn Williams
Hansen wants an improved defensive display from Williams
"He has looked after himself through the years and has been a valuable source of experience to the youngsters in the squad, as well as making his own contributions through his performances."

Hansen said he expected a big game from Martyn Williams, who was dropped after captaining the side to defeat in Dublin last month.

"Martyn Williams brings a level of experience to the team along with Llewellyn and he is a natural replacement for Jonathan Thomas who has not recovered in time to be in contention for this match," said the coach.

"We are expecting a big defensive performance from Martyn along with his usual continuity game."


Wales: Thomas (Warriors), Williams (Blues), Taylor (Scarlets), Harris (Blues) or Shanklin (Blues), Williams (Ospreys), Jones (Scarlets), Cooper (Warriors), Jones (Ospreys), McBryde (Scarlets), Jenkins (Warriors), Llewellyn (Ospreys), Owen (Dragons), Charvis (Tarbes, capt), Williams (Blues), Jones (Scarlets).

Replacements: Davies (Warriors), Evans (Blues), Sidoli (Warriors,), Popham (Leeds Tykes), Peel (Scarlets), Sweeney (Warriors), Harris (Blues) or Shanklin (Blues).




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