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Wales deny any controversy over Dwayne Peel's omission

Dwayne Peel
Dwayne Peel limps off during the Sale Sharks match against Cardiff Blues

Wales assistant coach Rob Howley says scrum-half Dwayne Peel's omission from their initial 35-man RBS Six Nations squad is purely down to injury.

There had been speculation head coach Warren Gatland was considering leaving out the Sale man even before his groin injury against the Blues on 16 January.

But Howley insists Peel will figure in the squad when he recovers.

"As soon as Dwayne is fit and performs he will be back in the squad," Howley confirmed to BBC Sport Wales.

"We spoke to Dwayne regarding the reason why him and [Ospreys scrum-half] Mike Phillips weren't selected. They are both injured."

It means Wales picked Blues scrum-halves Gareth Cooper and Richie Rees, plus Martin Roberts of the Scarlets.

The trio will now fight it out for the starting number nine berth for the opening Six Nations clash against England at Twickenham on 6 February.

It's best if they get their rehab right and when they are fit they will be called up

Rob Howley

"With two weeks' preparation we need able bodies and fit bodies [and] I think that with the new scrum-half in Richard Rees in the squad, what we don't want is injured players on the sideline,'' said Howley, capped 59 times as a Wales scrum-half.

"We want to give the best opportunity to the number nines who are here to be at their best.

"It's best if they [Peel and Phillips] get their rehab right and when they are fit they will be called up.

"That was the message that was passed on to Dwayne. Obviously when he came off against the Blues we were disappointed like everyone else to see Dwayne limp off."

Wales 'focussed' on England test

But Kingsley Jones, Peel's coaching director at Sale Sharks, suggested in a Sunday newspaper that fitness was not the only issue behind the player's omission.

It is not the first time Peel has been in the limelight, with doubt surrounding his future at Sale Sharks. His contract is up at the end of the season with a suggestion he might return to Wales.

Despite being without two British and Irish Lions scrum-halves in Peel and Phillips, Howley insists it is a golden opportunity for someone else ahead of the England clash.

"I think that we have got a great squad ethic. I think the old adage 'when one door closes another one opens' [fits] and for the nine, whether it is Gareth, Martin or Richard, the next two weeks' prep is going to be really important.

"We are going to see those players under our conditions, in our environment, and to give them the best opportunity to be at their best the decision was to leave Dwayne and Mike out of the squad.


"I think that is only fair on those number nines challenging for the place in two weeks' time."

Howley said the quality of some of the Heineken Cup rugby from the four regions had made the selection process very hard.

Normally Gatland picks relatively small squads but decided to give more players a chance.

"There have been stand-out performances across the regions over the last two weeks and as a result we have selected 35 [rather than 29 or 30] because we didn't feel we could leave anyone out."

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see also
Wales leave out Phillips and Peel
19 Jan 10 |  Welsh
Gatland delays team announcement
25 Jan 10 |  Welsh
Cardiff Blues 36-19 Sale Sharks
16 Jan 10 |  Rugby Union
Peel uncertain over rugby future
15 Jan 10 |  Sale
Peel 'will not rejoin Scarlets'
15 Jan 10 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales
RaboDirect Pro12
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
European Challenge Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Anglo-Welsh Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
WRU Challenge Cup archive
12 Jul 06 |  Welsh
Welsh Premiership
11 Apr 07 |  Welsh
Swalec Leagues
11 Apr 07 |  Welsh
Rugby union positions guide
05 Feb 07 |  Laws & Equipment

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