Lock Bradley Davies offered Wales support after tragedy
RBS SIX NATIONS - WALES v FRANCE Venue: Millennium Stadium Date: Friday, 26 February Kick-off: 2000 GMT Coverage: Exclusively live on BBC ONE, BBC HD channel, Red Button and online, full commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, Radio Wales and Radio Cymru, live text commentary and score updates on BBC Sport website
His initial view is that his mother would be extremely proud and he wants to play any part he is selected for
Wales coach Warren Gatland on Davies' selection
Wales coach Warren Gatland sympathised with Bradley Davies after the death of the lock's mother and said Davies will start against France if he so desires.
"I will announce the team to play France on Monday and I have informed Bradley that he will be selected in the starting XV," said Gatland.
"His initial view is that his mother would be extremely proud and he wants to play any part he is selected for.
"Of course I will fully understand if he comes to any other decision."
Davies' mother, Cheryl, died overnight after a short illness.
The sympathies of Welsh rugby will be with the 23-year-old, seven-cap lock away from the playing field.
But Gatland's statement also clears up some of his thinking on selection.
Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde has strongly hinted that 52-cap Jonathan Thomas will move from lock to blind-side flanker for the 26 February Millennium Stadium showdown with France, the 27-year-old also taking responsibility for line-out calls.
A change is needed in the back-row after Andy Powell's suspension from the squad following a drink-drive charge.
That will leave Wales needing an all-new second row as Alun Wyn Jones is out of the championship with an elbow injury.
Luke Charteris is heavy favourite to partner Davies, Deiniol Jones and Ian Gough the other second rows in the squad.
Gareth Williams, Gethin Jenkins and Matthew Rees will all be missing from the front row due to injuries.
Williams suffered knee ligament damage in the 31-24 win over Scotland, while Jenkins suffered a recurrence of a calf injury.
Loose-head prop Jenkins was named on the bench for the Scotland clash as he was short of fitness following his calf injury.
The Lions front-rower replaced Paul James in the second half in Cardiff but lasted barely 12 minutes before limping off.
Rees is still struggling with the groin injury that has kept him out of the first two games.
His Scarlets team-mate Ken Owens has been called up to contest the hooker's spot with Huw Bennett, and McBryde said the 23-year-old could well be called upon to make his debut next week.
"We're all aware of the impact Ken has for the Scarlets when he comes off the bench, and in the number of starts he's had in the season as well," said McBryde.
Thomas will provide a useful lineout option
Owens, who will play for the Scarlets against Leinster in the Magners League on Saturday, has been in impressive form for his region this season.
Many were surprised when Bennett made the Wales squad ahead of either him or Richard Hibbard.
"This year, for the first time in my professional career, I've played a lot of rugby," said Owens.
"It's nice to be recognised for my performances and the consistency that I've shown."
Scarlets coach Nigel Davies added: "Ken has been staking a strong claim for international honours this season, he is playing some superb rugby and he is playing it consistently.
"We are pleased for him that he will have an opportunity to show what he is capable of at national level."
Despite losing two imposing figures from the pack in Jones and Powell, McBryde discounted the suggestion of calling Gloucester's Gareth Delve into the squad.
"We're not looking elsewhere at the moment," he said. "The difficulty we've got is that any players based outside of Wales we just lose contact with them.
"We see this with someone like Rhys Gill and Eifion Roberts."
There is no sign yet of a recall for Dwayne Peel, who has returned to action after a groin strain with Sale after missing Wales' opening fixtures against England and Scotland.
Peel came off the bench for the last six minutes of Sale's 22-16 Guinness Premiership defeat at Wasps on Sunday, and has been named in the starting side to face Leeds on Friday.
Fellow scrum-half Mike Phillips is also on the road to recovery from the ankle ligament injury that has kept him out since October, and is set to play a part when the Ospreys host Connacht on Sunday.
Gareth Cooper has struggled at scrum-half in the absence of Phillips and Peel, Wales coach Warren Gatland reluctant to start with youngsters Richie Rees or Martin Roberts.
The Wales team for the Millennium Stadium showdown with France is due to be named at 1700 GMT on Monday, 22 February.
Wales' 34-man Six Nations squad:
Backs: Gareth Cooper, 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, Martin Roberts (all Scarlets).
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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