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Blues lock Deiniol Jones' shock Wales call-up

RBS SIX NATIONS: Wales v France
Venue: Millennium Stadium Date: Friday, 26 February Kick-off: 2000 GMT
Coverage: Watch on BBC One, BBC HD channel, Red Button and BBC Sport website; Radio 5 live, Radio Wales and Radio Cymru; text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles

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Jones 'honoured' to earn Wales start

Cardiff Blues lock Deiniol Jones has been given a shock call to face France on Friday alongside Bradley Davies, while Richie Rees starts at scrum-half.

Mike Phillips is Rees' scrum-half cover on the bench after his 40-minute return from a four-month injury absence for the Ospreys against Connacht on Sunday.

But coach Warren Gatland omits recently injured Dwayne Peel after he played full game for Sale on Friday.

Huw Bennett is at hooker and Jonathan Thomas switches to number six.

Peel was recalled to the Wales squad on Sunday after being out for a month with a groin strain and Gareth Cooper, whose selection to start the 30-17 defeat to England and 31-24 win over Scotland, was widely queried and criticised, has been released back to Cardiff Blues.

Gatland has also overlooked Newport Gwent Dragons lock Luke Charteris, who started at Twickenham, was dropped for the clash against Scotland and won the man-of-the-match award when leading his side to a 22-22 Magners League draw at Ulster on Friday.

He [Mike Phillips] may not be 100 per cent match fit but he still has probably the best pass in Northern Hemisphere rugby

Wales coach Warren Gatland

Deiniol Jones returns after figuring on Wales' summer tour to north America, having claimed seven caps since making his first Test appearance during Graham Henry's reign in the November 2000 win over Samoa.

Jones' return means 61-times capped Osprey Ian Gough is overlooked.

Gatland explained his scrum-half choices in a press release, saying: "Richie has played himself into the starting line-up and deserves his chance, but once we had decided on his selection we couldn't ignore the opportunity to bring Mike Phillips back into the fold.

"It was great to see Mike get a full half for the Ospreys at the weekend and he is someone who can give us a different option from the bench.

"He is a world class player and he has been champing at the bit to get back to international rugby.

"He may not be 100% match fit but he still has probably the best pass in Northern Hemisphere rugby and is a big physical presence so we know he won't let us down."

606: DEBATE
Sean Davies

Cardiff Blues second-row partners Davies, 23, and Jones, 32, start as Gatland responds to the elbow surgery that last week ruled out Alun Wyn Jones while fellow Osprey Thomas switches to the back-row in the absence of the Blues Andy Powell, who was released from the squad for disciplinary reasons.

Davies was told in the wake of his mother's death last week that he would be named in the starting line-up and Gatland has given the player the option of withdrawing at any stage.

Wales removed Powell from the squad after he was charged with drink-driving following an incident the morning after he helped them to a dramatic win against Scotland.

Ospreys hooker Huw Bennett starts his first game since helping Wales beat Samoa in November after injury ruled out Gareth Williams (knee) and Matthew Rees (groin).

Mike Phillips in action for Ospreys v Connacht

See Phillips' return to action for the Ospreys

Gatland added: "Deiniol has been in very good form for the Blues and he has the opportunity to partner his regional colleague (Davies) which should help both players settle in quickly.

"Bradley deserves his chance. he has been around this squad since he has been a youngster but he has worked hard and is in great physical shape and has the potential to be a great player.

"We are developing some strength in depth in the second row and Luke was impressive for the Dragons over the weekend so we will be looking for him to make an impact from the bench if he gets the chance.

"Jonathan Thomas moves to the back row but he will also hopefully have an impact at line-out time alongside Bradley and Deiniol, he runs that area for the Ospreys and has been doing a good job."

Veteran openside flanker Martyn Williams will join Colin Charvis as Wales' most-capped forward on 94 appearances, but Gatland says the British and Irish Lions is aware he must reproduce his best form.

"Martyn knows there is a young '7' in Sam Warburton waiting in the wings and Sam is keeping the pressure on," said Gatland.

"But he was disappointed after the Scotland game, despite the win, and is all fired up now for France.

"We know we need to improve on our performance against Scotland, we know we will create chances but we need to work hard in defence and improve in that area as well as concentrate on maintaining discipline.

"Then we need to be clinical and take our points and build in attack, if we can do those things we know we are in with a chance."

Saracens prop Rhys Gill and Scarlets hooker Ken Owens could make their Test debuts off the bench.


Wales: Lee Byrne (Ospreys); Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), James Hook (Ospreys), Jamie Roberts (Blues), Shane Williams (Ospreys); Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Richard Rees (Blues); Paul James, Huw Bennett, Adam Jones (Ospreys), Bradley Davies, Deiniol Jones (Blues), Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys), Martyn Williams (Blues), Ryan Jones (Ospreys, capt) Replacements: Ken Owens (Scarlets), Rhys Gill (Saracens), Luke Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), Sam Warburton (Blues), Mike Phillips (Ospreys), Andrew Bishop (Ospreys) , Tom Shanklin (Blues).

Wales' Six Nations squad:

Backs: Leigh Halfpenny, Tom James, Richard Rees, Jamie Roberts, Tom Shanklin (all Cardiff Blues) Dan Biggar, Andrew Bishop, Lee Byrne, James Hook, Kristian Phillips, Tom Prydie, Shane Williams (all Ospreys), Jonathan Davies, Stephen Jones (all Scarlets), Dwayne Peel (Sale Sharks).

Forwards: Ken Owens (Scarlets), Bradley Davies, Gethin Jenkins, Deiniol Jones, Sam Warburton, Gareth Williams, Martyn Williams (all Cardiff Blues), Huw Bennett, Ian Gough, Paul James, Adam Jones, Ryan Jones, Jonathan Thomas (all Ospreys), Matthew Rees (Scarlets), Luke Charteris, Dan Lydiate (both Newport Gwent Dragons), Eifion Lewis-Roberts (Sale Sharks), Rhys Gill (Saracens).

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see also
France suffer double injury blow
24 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Lock Davies offered Wales support
19 Feb 10 |  Welsh
Jones boost for Ospreys and Wales
01 Apr 10 |  Welsh
Powell removed from Wales squad
15 Feb 10 |  Welsh
Six Nations table
10 Aug 06 |  Tables
Wales' rugby fixtures
26 Jun 07 |  Welsh
Wales rugby results archive
15 Oct 03 |  Welsh
Coming up next on Scrum V...
03 Nov 08 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales


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