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Page last updated at 11:05 GMT, Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Shanklin feels sorry for Roberts

Tom Shanklin scores the match-winning try
Shanklin celebrates his try in Italy with fellow centre Gavin Henson

Tom Shanklin admits he has mixed feelings about his selection in Wales' Six Nations title decider against Ireland on Saturday.

The Blues centre says he is delighted to be paired with Gavin Henson but sad Jamie Roberts misses out.

"It's great that I'm playing with Gavin and I know what a good player Gavin is," said Shanklin.

"But on the other hand I do feel very much for Jamie Roberts. He's a good friend. I feel for Jamie."

Added Shanklin: "He's a team-mate at the Blues and he has been fantastic in the championship. But obviously three doesn't go into two. So someone had to sit on the bench.

"There's a lot of pressure for places all round the field not least in the centre.

"If you ask the Irish who they fear most [in the Welsh centre] it's difficult to say."

He said Henson's kicking skills and defence would be one element feared by Ireland, but also Roberts' "running lines and power game".

Wales head into Saturday's match knowing they have to beat the Irish by 13 clear points to seal back-to-back championships. There is also a Triple crown on offer for the winner, with Ireland scooping the Grand Slam if they come out on top.

Shanklin admitted the points factor gave the match some extra spice.

"Firstly we need to win the game but obviously all eyes will be looking at the scoreboard and looking for the Championship," he said.

We are at home and we are going for the championship

Tom Shanklin, Wales centre

"We've never been in this situation before - it's going to be a strange feeling."

Shanklin earns his starting spot on the back of scoring Wales' winning try in the 20-15 success over Italy in Rome last weekend.

He said the try made up for him giving away an earlier penalty.

"I wouldn't have liked to see the coaches' faces when I gave away that penalty. I thought I was on my feet but the referee [Allan Lewis] deemed otherwise. It was nice to make up for it with a try."

On the performance in the Stadio Flaminio Shanklin said: "There was a lot of relief [with the win] but we were bitterly disappointed coming off the field. I think you can tell by the players' reactions.

"We sort of came off the field thinking and feeling we had lost that game. We know we won but what we needed to do was score some more points to make our job a bit easier this weekend."

Shanklin insists the Millennium Stadium will present a pressure cooker atmosphere for both sides at the weekend.

"[The points margin will be] at the back of their minds [Ireland's], so there is pressure on them, but there's pressure on us. We are at home and we are going for the championship."

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see also
O'Leary back for Cardiff showdown
17 Mar 09 |  Rugby Union
Italy 15-20 Wales
14 Mar 09 |  Rugby Union

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