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Page last updated at 11:30 GMT, Monday, 17 May 2010 12:30 UK

Andy Powell 'deserves second chance' - Phil Bennett

Andy Powell
Bennett says a dearth of back-row choice has helped Powell's cause

Phil Bennett says Wales coach Warren Gatland was right to recall back-rower Andy Powell for the three June Tests against South Africa and New Zealand.

The 28-year-old was kicked out of the Six Nations squad after admitting driving a golf buggy while drunk.

But former Wales and British and Irish Lions captain Bennett says people will accept that he has moved on from that.

"As long as he gives his all for Wales the public will say he has repented and earned the right to play," he said.

"It's right to give him another chance, he did something very, very silly, but I'm sure that he regrets it and he's paid the price.

"Everyone deserves a second chance in life. I hope Andy Powell can put it behind him and show Warren Gatland what he is capable of, it's a great chance for him."

Brecon-born Powell is part of a 27-man Wales squad for the 5 June visit of South Africa to Cardiff and the two Tests that follow against the All Blacks in New Zealand on 19 June and 26 June.

The Cardiff Blues player has been a favourite of Gatland, under whom he enjoyed a stunning international debut against the Springboks in November 2008.

Sometimes Powell loses the ball in the contact area, but he's a dynamic player with quick feet

Phil Bennett

He won a place on last summer's Lions tour of South Africa and remained a first-choice for Wales up until the thrilling 31-24 Six Nations comeback victory over Scotland in February, his 14th cap.

Powell was arrested with another man in the early hours of the morning after that game at services off junction 33 of the M4 near the Wales team hotel in the Vale of Glamorgan.

He was subsequently convicted of driving a mechanically-propelled vehicle (golf buggy) while unfit through drink, an offence he admitted and has expressed his 'terrible regret' over.

While Bennett is glad to see Powell back in the squad, he says that his recall also reflects a dearth of back-row options for Gatland.

"If you look at the number eights playing in Wales, you have the likes of [New Zealander] Xavier Rush at the Blues and [Australian] David Lyons at the Scarlets," the former fly-half told BBC Sport Wales.

"There are not many eights of quality and experience around, and Gareth Delve has chosen to go to Australia.

"Andy Powell is a very, very good player, although he still has a lot to learn. He could learn a lot from the master, Xavier Rush.

"Sometimes Powell loses the ball in the contact area, but he's a dynamic player with quick feet."

Gatland concedes that his back-row options are limited and he has indicated that uncapped Scarlets flanker Rob McCusker has been called into the squad earlier than anticipated.

But he says that Powell has more than done enough to earn his recall.

"We don't have a lot of options, but Andy's there on merit," Gatland told BBC Sport Wales.

"There was no pressure on us to not include him for the remainder of the Six Nations, but we made that management decision.

"He's been remorseful about what he's done.

"He picked up a bit of a calf injury, but we've had him in the Vale [of Glamorgan hotel] training.

"He's in good shape and desperately wants to be part of this squad, to show he's capable playing at the highest level."

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see also
Powell back for Wales' June Tests
16 May 10 |  Welsh
Wales excited by new-boy Knoyle
17 May 10 |  Welsh
Hore injury blow for New Zealand
15 May 10 |  Welsh
Wales suffer Jenkins injury blow
26 May 10 |  Welsh
Gatland considers 50-strong list
30 Apr 10 |  Welsh
Powell admits 'golf buggy' charge
02 Mar 10 |  Wales
Powell regret over 'stupid prank'
24 Feb 10 |  Welsh
Powell removed from Wales squad
15 Feb 10 |  Welsh
Wales' rugby fixtures
26 Jun 07 |  Welsh
Wales rugby results archive
15 Oct 03 |  Welsh
Mighty Boks: South African rugby
01 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union
All Blacks magic: New Zealand rugby
21 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union
Country profile: New Zealand
28 Nov 11 |  Country profiles
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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