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Last Updated: Monday, 5 March 2007, 13:34 GMT
Morgan makes shock Wales return
Wales full-back Kevin Morgan
Morgan broke his jaw in the defeat to Scotland last month
Full-back Kevin Morgan starts for Wales in Italy on Saturday after making a remarkable recovery from a broken jaw.

Morgan, 30, suffered the injury against Scotland and, after missing France, was not expected to be ready for contact until the England match on 17 March.

He replaces Lee Byrne, the only change following the Paris defeat, with Chris Horsman and Mark Jones both fit.

Gareth Thomas, who is on the bench after suspension, is one of only two backs amongst the replacements.

The Italians probably have the strongest scrum in the Six Nations and there is a certain amount of horses for courses in selection to reflect that

Wales coach Gareth Jenkins

That allows Wales coach Gareth Jenkins to name an entire front row on the bench ahead of the Stadio Flaminio challenge of the big-scrummaging Italians.

Jamie Robinson and Ceri Sweeney drop out of the match-day 22, while there is no place for Colin Charvis, despite another outstanding display in the Dragons' 13-3 win over Glasgow at Rodney Parade on Friday night.

"It's a welcome boost to us all to have someone of Kevin's calibre, in the form he is currently in, available to play," said Jenkins.

Gareth Thomas
Thomas had been tipped to return to the starting line-up

"Gareth Thomas will also strengthen the squad and he takes his place on the bench more than ready to make his return after seven weeks of no rugby.

"He's been training hard and has all the experience necessary to make an impact if called upon.

"The Italians probably have the strongest scrum in the RBS Six Nations and there is a certain amount of horses for courses in selection to reflect that.

"With only two backs on the bench we've looked at Gareth for his versatility, and both Jamie and Ceri have been unlucky."

It's fair to say Kevin's recovery has been rapid

Wales team physio Mark Davies

Wales team physio Mark Davies added: "The last couple of weeks have been uncomplicated, Kevin suffered none of the potential after effects of the operation and it's fair to say his recovery has been rapid.

"He had a crack fracture through the socket of his wisdom tooth in his jawbone, the operation removed two wisdom teeth and successfully repaired the fracture.

"Kevin had been asked to avoid full-contact training during his recovery period, but has taken an active part in other sessions and has now been given the all clear to play this weekend by his surgeon."

BBC Wales' Sean Davies

Gavin Henson (knee injury) was ruled out of contention for the rest of the Six Nations last week, but fellow Ospreys and Wales centre Sonny Parker played a full game in his region's 30-12 win in Edinburgh, having recovered from a groin injury.

Cardiff Blues and Wales flanker Robin Sowden-Taylor made a try-scoring return from a serious ankle injury for Glamorgan Wanderers in their 35-9 win at Aberavon.

But neither he nor Parker are likely to be considered for the remainder of the Championship after such long lay-offs.

Wales team to face Italy at Rome's Stadio Flaminio (Saturday, 10 March, 1530 GMT):
Kevin Morgan (Dragons); Mark Jones (Scarlets), Tom Shanklin (Blues), James Hook (Ospreys), Shane Williams (Ospreys); Stephen Jones (Scarlets, capt), Dwayne Peel (Scarlets); Gethin Jenkins (Blues), Matthew Rees (Scarlets), Chris Horsman (Worcester), Ian Gough (Dragons), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Alix Popham (Scarlets), Martyn Williams (Blues), Ryan Jones (Ospreys).
Replacements: Duncan Jones (Ospreys), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Rhys Thomas (Blues), Brent Cockbain (Ospreys), Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys), Mike Phillips (Blues), Gareth Thomas (Toulouse).

Referee: Chris White (England)

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