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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 March, 2005, 16:49 GMT
Wales 1978 v 2005: The reckoning
By James Standley

After years of pain Welsh rugby fans are once again on top of the world.

If Wales beat Ireland in Cardiff on Saturday they will clinch their first Grand Slam since 1978.

That Welsh team was packed with names who are legends in Wales to this day, and the current vintage are hoping they will soon be elevated to their ranks.

But how many of the current XV would make it into the awesome Wales team that swept all before them in 1978?


WALES 2005

Gareth Thomas
Gareth Thomas
Brave and combative Thomas has played right across the Welsh backline. He is Wales' all-time leading try-scorer and leads by example as captain.
Out - still JPR's jersey

Kevin Morgan
Kevin Morgan
Not the biggest but certainly one of the quickest players around, Morgan also does a fine job at full-back and is an elusive runner in the classic Welsh style.
Out - Gerald stays put

Tom Shanklin
Tom Shanklin
The dependable ex-Saracens centre, son of former Wales player Jim, has forced his way into the side after several years on the fringes and a career-threatening leg injury.
Out - Gravell's too strong

Gavin Henson
Gavin Henson
The new Welsh poster boy will always be remembered for his towering kick to beat England. Has all the skills and could go on to become a Welsh legend.
Out - maybe in the future

Shane Williams
Shane Williams
The twinkle-toed imp has been the most dangerous broken-field runner in the 2005 championship. The hair may not delight everyone but the dancing feet certainly do.
In - he'd shift JJ

Stephen Jones
Stephen Jones
With some decent ball to play with the hugely-underrated Jones has shown he is well capable of controlling a game. Not a dazzling runner, but makes his share of breaks.
Out - lacks genius

Dwayne Peel
Dwayne Peel
The latest in a long line of fine Welsh scrum-halves. Possesses a good pass and plenty of pace, which he uses to snipe around the fringes to great effect.
Out - Edwards untouchable

Michael Owen
Michael Owen
The rangy number eight is a fine all-round athlete and a great footballer. His ball carrying gives Wales another option when they cannot get the ball wide.
In - Quinnell's a big lump

Martyn Williams
Martyn Williams
Profited from Colin Charvis' injury and has been one of the players of the tournament. Not the most powerful athlete but reads the game brilliantly and puts his body on the line.
In - 2005's best player

Ryan Jones
Ryan Jones
Given his chance due to injuries, Jones is a robust ball carrier who refuses to take a backwards step. He is a big man with a bright future ahead of him.
Out - Squire's too good

Robert Sidoli
Robert Sidoli
Wales prime lineout option, the lanky second row is a good athlete who has rediscovered his form and battled back into contention after a disappointing 2004.
Out - Allan's a kicker too

Brent Cockbain
Brent Cockbain
The tough Aussie-born second row has come into his own this season. He brings presence to the Welsh lineout and adds plenty around the park as well.
Out - Wheel was awesome

Adam Jones
Adam Jones
The darker member of the "hair-bear bunch" with injured namesake Duncan, doubts remain over his fitness but he has done a fine job anchoring the once-rocky Welsh scrum.
Out - no-one shifts Price

Mefin Davies
Mefin Davies
Nearly lost to the professional game when the Celtic Warriors folded, Davies has been reborn with Gloucester. Nuggety and tough, he never takes a backwards step.
Out - Windsor was Windsor

Gethin Jenkins
Gethin Jenkins
The loose-head grew from promising youngster to top-class international during the 2005 championship. Prominent around the field, he can also play on the tight-head.
In - huge potential

WALES 1978

JPR Williams
JPR Williams
A fearless full-back and one of the fittest players of his generation. Able to stop anyone in their tracks with the added advantage of impressive speed.
In - he's a class apart

Gerald Davies
Gerald Davies
With a wonderful change of pace, his ability to glide away from opposition was often breathtaking. A Ferrari on legs, he became a journalist with the BBC and Times.
In - one of the best ever

Ray Gravell
Ray Gravell
A fearless and powerful centre, he played rugby with his heart on his sleeve, even if it sometimes affected his head. One of the last of the bearded backs.
In - too much for Shanklin

Steve Fenwick
Steve Fenwick
Became one of Wales' most accomplished all-round players. Valued for his ability to score tries as well as convert them. Powerful and strong in defence.
In - but Henson has time

JJ Williams
JJ Williams
The sprinter of the team and on hard ground so quick few players could catch him. He was the master of the kick and chase and often impossible to catch.
Out - Shane fits right in

Phil Bennett
Phil Bennett
A brilliant Welsh fly-half, able to jink past players twice his height. Is rated as highly as Barry John among those who saw both of the Welsh wizards play.
In - he's one of the greats

Gareth Edwards
Gareth Edwards
A legend in his own time. A 400m hurdler with a low centre of gravity, his rugby skills matched his athletic ability. Perhaps the most accomplished scrum-half ever.
In - he's the best

Derek Quinnell
Derek Quinnell
A big and aggressive lump of a man at the back of the scrum, he was able to take as well as dish out some almighty hits - not unlike his sons!
Out - Owen offers far more

Terry Cobner
Terry Cobner
Probably the strongest man, pound for pound, in the Welsh team. A master of the maul he was a powerful openside flanker, described as "a nightmare" to play against.
Out - very close call

John Squire
Jeff Squire
At his peak he was superb on the burst and rarely gave away possession. He was also responsible for more than his share of lineout ball. A number eight playing blindside.
In - Jones not there yet

Allan Martin
Allan Martin
The classic lineout jumper and stole many an opposition throw. Also an impressive kicker of the ball and frustrated many sides with his long-range toe-punts.
In - Outclasses Sidoli

Geoff Wheel
Geoff Wheel
Possibly the most powerful lock in the Five Nations of his era. Rucks would rise up and down when he had his hands on the ball. One of the best Wales locks ever.
In - Cockbain misses out

Graham Price
Graham Price
A remarkable talent in the front row and possibly one of the greatest props the world has ever seen - as he made evident with his 60 metre try against France in Paris.
In - was there any doubt?

Bobby Windsor
Bobby Windsor
A deceptively quick hooker and great scrummager, Windsor did everything ever asked of him. Devastating to play against as he knew every trick in the book.
In - Davies offers no more

Charlie Faulkner
Charlie Faulkner
The final member of the famous all-Pontypool front row. Along with his mates he provided the platform for the wonderfully talented backline to prosper.
Out - youth takes over


In our view only four of the current team would make it into the Grand Slam-winning team of 1978, and a couple of those are controversial selections at best.

Shane Williams would fit right in with the '78 legends but he is the only modern-day back who would make the XV.

Up front, Martyn Williams' superb form demands inclusion, even if it is at the expense of the force of nature that was Terry Cobner.

Michael Owen is rapidly growing into a fine player and his ball skills would have brought a different dimension to the '78 team.

And in the front row the richly-talented Gethin Jenkins would break up the Pontypool trio known as the "Viet Gwent" by forcing out Charlie Faulkner.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Report: A look back at Wales' 1978 glory



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