Williams axed

Three-tour Lion Martyn Williams is the shock omission from Wales' RBS 6Nations squad. [more]

Williams axed

Three-tour Lion Martyn Williams is the shock omission from Wales’ RBS 6Nations squad.

The Cardiff Blues flanker has toured Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in successive Lions tours and is currently on the verge of his 100th Welsh cap.

But he has failed to make the cut for Warren Gatland's squad ahead of the Championship kick-off against England in 12 days' time.

It is an unthinkable turn around for the Test veteran who was pulled from International retirement by Gatland in 2007.

With 98 Welsh caps to his name he could come agonisingly short of joining Gareth Thomas in the 100-cap club.

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But there are recalls for fellow Lions Jamie Roberts, Leigh Halfpenny and Dwayne Peel, who all missed the autumn internationals, while Shane Williams and Lee Byrne have both recovered from injuries to make the squad.

There are five uncapped players in the 28-man squad, namely Rhys Priestland, Toby Faletau, Scott Andrews, Ryan Bevington and Josh Turnbull.

"We have deliberately kept the squad as small as possible and have reverted back largely to the philosophy we had during the Grand Slam year in 2008," said Gatland.

"We want to keep intensity levels up in training and have ensured that we are not carrying players with injury. Everyone here is fighting fit and able to take a full part and challenge each other for selection.

"It’s a boost to have one or two players back from injury in the backline with Shane and Lee both doubts at one stage and Leigh and Jamie returning after being unavailable to us in the Autumn, there’s an exciting look about the backs.

"Up front, its well documented that we have lost a couple of players in the front row, but that gives opportunities to others to put their hands up and we are pleased with the options we have got in the pack.

"The forwards have been going pretty well and we have decided to give a couple of youngsters a chance this tournament but that doesn’t mean there is no way back for those who have missed out.

"We are conscious that we need now to begin to realise our potential and that means winning some games.

"It all starts against England at the Millennium stadium in a fortnight and they don’t come much bigger than that.

"We have a pretty good record against them in recent years and enjoy playing against them, especially at the Millennium Stadium and it is a game that could really set the tone for the season ahead for both sides and in a World Cup year that’s all the at needs to be said."


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