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Page last updated at 11:27 GMT, Friday, 6 February 2009

Henson ruled out of Wales opener

Date: Sunday, 8 February Kick-off: 1500 GMTVenue: Murrayfield
Coverage: Screened live on BBC ONE Wales and online plus full commentary on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru and online & score updates on BBC Radio Five Live

Gavin Henson
Henson has missed the last six Wales games with injury

Wales centre Gavin Henson has been ruled out of Sunday's Six Nations match in Scotland with a calf strain.

His 2005 and 2008 Grand Slam side-kick Tom Shanklin comes into midfield alongside Jamie Roberts, with Osprey Andrew Bishop joining the bench.

Henson, 27, withdrew from the autumn opener against South Africa at the last minute because of an Achilles injury.

Scotland will be the seventh Test in a row he has missed injured. His calf problem will be assessed on Monday.

Wing Leigh Halfpenny gets a Six Nations debut with Mark Jones out, with Stephen Jones and Mike Phillips at half-back.

The pack is unchanged from the eight that beat Australia in November, Matt Rees and Ian Gough keeping their spots.

The absence of Jonathan Thomas with neck, shoulder and groin problems simplified the back-row selection, where Ryan Jones continues as captain and blind-side for the Murrayfield showdown.


Scrum-half Dwayne Peel is on the bench after being left out of coach Warren Gatland's original 28-man squad for the tournament, Gareth Cooper's knee injury handing Peel a return to Test duty.

But the starting spot goes to Phillips, who has been kept out of the Test arena since last season's Grand Slam-clinching victory over France because of a knee injury.

Henson missed the autumn internationals through injury and Roberts suffered a fractured skull against the Wallabies, but with both thought to be back to fitness Shanklin was the man to miss out.

But Henson sat out Wednesday's training with a calf strain and has now been ruled out.

"Gavin just felt his calf tightening in training," said Gatland.

Interview: Wales coach Warren Gatland

"There is no point training on it and making it a major problem that would keep him out for six or eight weeks."

Gatland said that injured trio Thomas, Cooper and Jones, who is recovering from an appendix operation, would all have been in contention for a starting spot if fit.

"We had close calls to make throughout the squad and selection is always down to a matter of opinion - now we wait and see if those players selected can prove those opinions correct," Gatland added.

"We know the nation expects, but we will not be complacent, we will be on our guard.

"Teams have gone to Scotland in the past and been over-confident and expected a result, but the Scots will be looking forward to taking us on and if we take the challenge lightly we will be playing straight into their hands.

"They are a much-improved outfit over the last 12 months and they have the talent and the ability to turn teams over."

Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards says he is delighted with the preparations for the tournament.

"I can only talk about what I have seen in the past eight days, and that has been absolutely exceptional," he said on Tuesday.

Interview: Wales captain Ryan Jones

"We did a lot of hard work last week with some pretty brutal training sessions. Some of them were as tough, if not tougher, than a game.

"You need a constant hunger to improve and be constantly challenging yourself and those around you.

"You need to be in an environment that, at times, can be a little uncomfortable - where you don't settle for second-best.

"We have those sort of characters in the Wales squad. But it's also that we have a pretty healthy squad.

"If you had told me that, after the autumn internationals, this would be the squad we had for Scotland, we would have been very happy.

"There is a lot of competition for the nines, 10s, the midfield and all over the pitch really. No one can be too comfortable because, if they get too comfortable, someone else will be in their spot."

Wales team to face Scotland: Lee Byrne (Ospreys); Leigh Halfpenny (Blues), Jamie Roberts (Blues), Tom Shanklin (Blues), Shane Williams (Ospreys); Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Ospreys); Gethin Jenkins (Blues), Matthew Rees (Scarlets), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Ian Gough (Ospreys), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Ryan Jones (Ospreys, capt), Martyn Williams (Blues), Andy Powell (Blues).
Replacements: Andrew Bishop (Ospreys), James Hook (Ospreys), Dwayne Peel (Sale), John Yapp (Blues), Huw Bennett (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Dragons), Dafydd Jones (Scarlets).

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see also
Review - 2008 Six Nations season
02 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Can Wales handle favourites' mantle?
06 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Williams seeks Wales 'greatness'
06 Feb 09 |  Welsh
Phillips firing after injury woe
04 Feb 09 |  Welsh
Scotland drop full-back Paterson
04 Feb 09 |  Scottish
'Massive' Scots test awaits Wales
04 Feb 09 |  Welsh
Edwards underlines Wales' hunger
03 Feb 09 |  Welsh
Peel earns late Welsh squad call
31 Jan 09 |  Welsh
Six Nations guide 2009
28 Jan 09 |  Rugby Union
Wales' rugby fixtures
26 Jun 07 |  Welsh
Wales rugby results archive
15 Oct 03 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales
Coming up next on Scrum V...
27 Oct 08 |  Welsh

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