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Shock Wales recall for Cardiff Blues wing Tom James

AUTUMN INTERNATIONAL - WALES v NEW ZEALAND
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff Date: Saturday, 27 November Kick-off: 1715 GMT Coverage: Watch on BBC TWO and the BBC Sport website; listen on BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru and Radio 5 Live; report and reaction on BBC Sport website and mobiles


Tom James
Tom James has not played for Wales since the 2010 Six Nations Championship

Tom James is Wales' surprise inclusion to play New Zealand on Saturday as Warren Gatland makes 12 changes, three positional, from the draw with Fiji.

The three survivors who keep their starting positions are George North, Lee Byrne and Adam Jones.

But Ryan Jones, despite losing the captaincy, and Dan Lydiate keep their places in a reshuffled back row.

Fit-again Gethin Jenkins and Sam Warburton return and James Hook moves from outside to inside centre.

Coach Warren Gatland called James into squad training this week having given Newport Gwent Dragons Aled Brew and Will Harries game time on the wing during an autumn in which Shane Williams dislocated his shoulder against South Africa on 13 November.

The Blues wing has not always seen eye to eye with Gatland, however.

Gethin Jenkins
Jenkins starred against Australia but has been out since with a calf problem

The 23-year-old has not figured in a Wales jersey since walking out of the squad before the Six Nations Championship game against Italy earlier this year.

James felt aggrieved at being overlooked to play when Gatland gave a shock debut to rookie Ospreys teenager Tom Prydie.

That prompted the Blues man to walk out of the squad for the final three days of preparation.

But he subsequently apologised to Gatland and now seems back in favour and is set to win his 10th cap.

It was not James' first outburst against Gatland. On the 2008 tour to South Africa he complained about a lack of chances and claimed he was a better player than wing rival Mark Jones.

James has not figured for Wales since playing in the 30-17 defeat against England at Twickenham in 2010 and missing a try-scoring chance.

The other wing options open to Gatland are Will Harries, who was dropped after the Australia defeat, and Aled Brew, who was given a tough examination by the Fijians.

But James gives Wales the option of a physical presence to go with 18-year-old George North on the other wing.

We are also conscious that we have a strong bench to call on to come on and make an impact

Warren Gatland

"Tom James was injured when we named the squad at the start of the series, but he did well for the Blues last Friday night in the game against Ulster, scoring a try in a game they should have won," said Gatland.

"He has genuine pace and that along with size and physicality and some experience at this level is what we are going to need against New Zealand."

After the half-backs Richie Rees and Dan Biggar were taken off early in the second half against Fiji, Mike Phillips and Stephen Jones return to the starting line-up as expected, with Tom Shanklin partnering Hook at centre.

Up front Jenkins and Warburton return to the pack. They both started the first autumn Test against Australia but have missed the last two with calf trouble.

Warburton packs down at open-side with Dan Lydiate moving to the blind-side flank and Jones moves to number eight.

606: DEBATE
Silverball

"Back row is one position where we have a great deal of competition for places, with Dan Lydiate going particularly well at the moment," said Gatland.

"Sam Warburton gets his chance to start and Ryan Jones, having not played a lot of rugby this season, has a chance to play at number eight but we are also conscious that we have a strong bench to call on to come on and make an impact in that area.

"The likes of Martyn Williams, Andy Powell and Jonathan Thomas all give us options.

"We have tried something a little different in that area with a five/two split as we know we will need to be at maximum intensity for the full 80 minutes against the All Blacks.

"Gethin Jenkins is back in the front row, Matthew Rees also returns and with Adam Jones in the best shape I've seen him in we know we are strong there.

"We are very happy with the tight five and we have two young physical locks who are getting better with every game."

Powell started against South Africa but a groin problem meant he missed last Friday's dismal draw with Fiji.

Henry anticipates Wales 'edge'

Wales have gone six games without a win and have been given little chance of overturning world number ones New Zealand for the first time since 1953.

Warren Gatland's side have won just twice in 2010 - against Scotland and Italy - and have lost nine of their last 12 Tests.

The coach announced immediately after the Fiji match that Matthew Rees would return as captain against the All Blacks ahead of 2008 Grand Slam skipper Ryan Jones.

Jones had conceded the last-gasp penalty that gave Fiji the draw and seemed to take the brunt of heavy criticism from the Wales coaching team.

That response from Gatland, Robert Howley and Shaun Edwards has been heavily criticised by former Wales players, with ex-lock Derwyn Jones suggesting that unrest has been created in the camp.

But fly-half Jones was keen to play down any problems, stating: "Obviously the coaches are entitled to make their opinions known and we respect them for that.

"It's going to be a great game, a physical game, and it's a good challenge for us."


Wales: Lee Byrne (Ospreys); George North (Scarlets), Tom Shanklin (Blues), James Hook (Ospreys), Tom James (Blues); Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Ospreys); Gethin Jenkins (Blues), Matthew Rees (Scarlets, capt), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Bradley Davies (Blues), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Dragons), Sam Warburton (Blues), Ryan Jones (Ospreys).
Replacements: Huw Bennett (Ospreys), Paul James (Ospreys), Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys), Andy Powell (Blues), Martyn Williams (Blues), Richie Rees (Blues), Andrew Bishop (Ospreys).

New Zealand: M Muliaina (Chiefs); I Toeava (Blues), C Smith (Hurricanes), SB Williams (Crusaders), H Gear (Hurricanes); D Carter (Crusaders), J Cowan (Highlanders); T Woodcock (Blues), K Mealamu (Blues), O Franks (Crusaders), B Thorn (Crusaders), S Whitelock (Crusaders), J Kaino (Blues), R McCaw (Crusaders, capt), K Read (Crusaders).
Replacements: A Hore (Hurricanes), J Afoa (Blues), A Boric (Blues), D Braid (Queensland Reds), A Ellis (Crusaders), S Donald (Chiefs), M Nonu (Hurricanes).

Referee: Allan Lewis (Ireland)

Ryan Jones

Highlights - Wales 16-16 Fiji



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see also
Wales 25-37 New Zealand
27 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
Williams takes Nonu's NZ position
25 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
Carter on verge of points record
23 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
Wales must ease hurt - Phillips
23 Nov 10 |  Welsh
Gatland created scapegoat - Jones
22 Nov 10 |  Welsh
Wales 16-16 Fiji
19 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
All Blacks magic: New Zealand rugby
21 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union
James 'to apologise to Gatland'
29 Mar 10 |  Welsh
James 'says sorry' for outburst
27 Jun 08 |  Welsh
Wales' rugby fixtures
26 Jun 07 |  Welsh
Wales rugby results archive
15 Oct 03 |  Welsh
Rugby union on the BBC
05 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union


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