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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 June 2007, 14:34 GMT 15:34 UK
Wales poised to rotate captaincy
Wales coach Gareth Jenkins (background) and captain Stephen Jones
Stephen Jones faces a battle to retain his Wales starting place
Wales coach Gareth Jenkins is expected to try out five captains in the run-up to September's Rugby World Cup.

Stephen Jones, Gareth Thomas, Duncan Jones, Jonathan Thomas and Alun Wyn Jones are all set to be considered.

"We're developing a group of leaders in the squad and will take a closer look at the captaincy when the final 30 is named on 14 August," said Jenkins.

"We're going to need more than one leader on the pitch and we're lucky to have a number of suitable candidates."

People who don't understand sport get too hung up about the captaincy

Former Wales coach Steve Hansen

Former Wales coach and current New Zealand assistant Steve Hansen caused a minor media furore by naming four captains in his squad in the build-up to the 2003 World Cup.

"People who don't understand sport get too hung up about the captaincy - you want 30 leaders ideally," said Hansen at the time.

"You need one guy to stand up, but there's a thing called empowerment.

"We did it at Canterbury [Crusaders] with Todd Blackadder, Daryl Gibson and Aaron Mauger, and the Australian women's hockey team have used the system."


Llanelli Scarlets outside-half Jones, 29, was named as Jenkins' Wales skipper in October with the understanding that he would take the side through the World Cup campaign.

But the 62-cap man's starting spot has come under pressure from the prodigious development of young Ospreys outside-half James Hook.

Wales' best performance of the autumn Tests came after Hook replaced the injured Jones at 10 during the Australia game.

Jenkins' side then struggled through a torrid Six Nations campaign with Jones at outside-half and Hook at inside centre.

After four straight defeats, injury ruled Jones out of the 27-18 win over England, Hook producing a man-of-the-match performance in the 10 jersey.

Alun-Wyn Jones
Jones is a surprise candidate for the skipper's armband

Grand Slam skipper Gareth Thomas - who was pipped to the captaincy by Jones - returned for that match, his inspirational leadership helping to spark an excellent performance.

With Jones rested, Thomas led Wales' summer tour to Australia, impressing in the first Test before a tired team fell to a heavy defeat in the second and final game.

But Thomas, like Jones, cannot be guaranteed a starting spot, and the same can be said of loose-head prop Duncan Jones and utility forward Jonathan Thomas.

That could leave 21-year-old Ospreys lock Alun Wyn Jones as a surprise contender to be Wales' World Cup skipper.

The 10-cap second-row has made a stunning impact since his arrival on the international stage on last summer's tour to Argentina, and was perhaps Wales' star performer of a miserable Six Nations campaign.

He has already been tasked with the job of sorting out Wales' shambolic line-out, an area that fell apart in Australia with Jones rested at home.

Rugby World Cup 2007 fixtures
11 Jan 07 |  Rugby Union
Hansen names four captains
06 Jun 03 |  Welsh


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