Wales duo win Woodward’s vote

Sir Clive Woodward has revealed that Welsh Grand Slam stars Stephen Jones and Dwayne Peel were in his thoughts as British & Irish Lions Test half-backs halfway through this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship. [more]

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Sir Clive Woodward has revealed that Welsh Grand Slam stars Stephen Jones and Dwayne Peel were in his thoughts as British & Irish Lions Test half-backs halfway through this season’s RBS 6 Nations Championship.

Woodward has selected the former Llanelli pair to face New Zealand at Jade Stadium on Saturday – and handed Jonny Wilkinson an unexpected role as inside centre.

It will be Wilkinson’s first Test match appearance in the number 12 shirt since England saw their Five Nations Grand Slam hopes ended by Wales six years ago.

"Watching the Six Nations, I was massively impressed with the Welsh half-backs, especially during the second half against France in Paris," said Woodward.

"They are the half-backs I’ve been looking at. They had a wonderful Six Nations, and they really delivered. I don’t see a lot of difference between 10 and 12, and we are very lucky to have both Jones and Wilkinson."

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For his part, England fly-half Wilkinson is comfortable with the positional move, which has meant no place for another Welsh Grand Slam hero, Gavin Henson.

"My recent history over the past five or six years has been more at 10, and I suppose it’s having to see things a little bit differently," said Wilkinson.

"For example, if I was left to wander around on a field, then naturally I would start drifting into that 10 position, so there is some active thought needed on my part just to make sure that I take into account what I am supposed to be doing at 12 from those phases.

"But once the game gets into play, I’ve really got to try to make sure I help the guys around me and try to make it a bonus that I am on the field, getting the best out of players outside and inside me," he said.

"It’s my biggest game because it is my next game. You are always judged on your next performance, or your most recent performance, and I need to make sure I am ready, I do myself justice and, most importantly, I don’t let these guys down around me," he added.

"Stephen is a fantastic player. It’s nice to have that kind of empathy, being a number 10, knowing what he is thinking and being able to latch on to his wavelength fairly quickly."

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