Gatland rings the changes

Wales coach Warren Gatland has rung the changes for his side's second Prince William Cup clash with the Springboks this weekend at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria. [more]

Gatland rings the changes

Wales coach Warren Gatland has rung the changes for his side’s second Prince William Cup clash with the Springboks this weekend at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria.

Following the disappointment of last Saturday’s 43-17 defeat by the world champions in Bloemfontein, Gatland has responded by making seven changes, three of them positional.
James Hook will start a Wales international at full back for the first time in the team.
The 26-times capped Osprey, who normally plays outside half or centre, replaces the Cardiff Blues full back Jamie Roberts who, in turn, moves to inside centre replacing Sonny Parker.
The new-look centre pairing of Roberts and Tom Shanklin is one of three new combinations with coach Gatland also making changes in the front and back rows of the scrum.
Up front the Ospreys hooker Richard Hibbard takes over the hooker berth from injured Matthew Rees with Gethin Jenkins staying at loosehead and Newport Gwent Dragons’ Rhys Thomas coming in at tighthead instead of Adam Jones.
The second row of Ian Gough and Alun-Wyn Jones is unchanged but all three of the back row will be wearing new numbers this week.
Captain Ryan Jones moves to number six to allow Gareth Delve of Gloucester Rugby to come in at number eight and Jonathan Thomas to earn a start at openside flanker instead of Dafydd Jones who drops to the bench.
The replacement hooker jersey is worn by Cardiff Blues number two T Rhys Thomas who joined the squad last week as a replacement for the injured Rees. He is joined on the bench by Duncan Jones, Ian Evans and Dafydd Jones as forward cover.
As backs cover scrum half Warren Fury, who left the bench to earn his first cap last weekend, is joined by Tom James of the Cardiff Blues and the Osprey centre Andrew Bishop who will win his first cap if he is called onto the pitch.
Head Coach Warren Gatland said: "I am satisfied that we have selected a team which accurately reflects all the hard work in training and the match analysis we have carried out this week. We know where we were left wanting in the first Test and we have made selections aimed at improving those areas on Saturday.
"We know what James Hook can do and we believe we need him on the pitch from the start as he is too good a footballer not to be used. He has gone well at full back in training during some pretty intense sessions and he will be able to play a big part in the game from 15.
"All three back row forwards we have chosen have vast experience in the positions they will play on Saturday and we believe it will give us a physical combination capable of improving our performance at the breakdown where we need to improve.
"Some of the combinations in this selection are new but we are very well aware of the capabilities of the boys we have chosen and we know what options they offer us. This week we have had to build from the disappointment of a bad defeat but our preparation over the last few days has been great and confidence is building again.
"We want to win the respect of our opponents and I am confident we have picked a side capable of earning that respect if they play to their full potential."

Wales: James Hook; Mark Jones, Tom Shanklin, Jamie Roberts, Shane Williams; Stephen Jones, Gareth Cooper; Gethin Jenkins, Richard Hibbard, Rhys Thomas, Ian Gough, Alun-Wyn Jones, Ryan Jones (captain), Jonathan Thomas, Gareth Delve.
Replacements: T Rhys Thomas, Duncan Jones, Ian Evans, Dafydd Jones, Warren Fury, Andrew Bishop, Tom James.

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