Triple Lion boost for Wales

Wales have been bolstered by the return of three Lions ahead of Saturday's return clash with England at the Millennium Stadium. [more]

Triple Lion boost for Wales

Wales have been bolstered by the return of three Lions ahead of Saturday’s return clash with England at the Millennium Stadium.

James Hook, Lee Byrne and Adam Jones, all tourists in 2009, have been declared fit as Wales aim to gain revenge for their 23-19 loss to Martin Johnson's men at Twickenham last weekend.

Hook has not played for Wales since facing France in the RBS 6 Nations in March. A clash of dates with his wedding in June, meant the mercurial play-maker missed Wales' defeat to the Barbarians and he then sat out the first of two back-to-back clashes with the old enemy due to a shoulder injury.

Rhys Priestland slotted in at fly-half following the late withdrawal of two-tour Lion Stephen Jones, who would have become Wales all-time most capped player, with a calf strain.

Wales will continue to monitor Jones but they will not risk the veteran pivot with the World Cup just a month away and Hook could be handed the famous number 10 jersey.

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"It was just a slight niggle, probably the result of training so intensely over the past weeks," said Hook. I'm feeling good and it's just a case of training well and seeing what Warren (Gatland) decides.

"We can definitely beat them. England were very structured and Jonny Wilkinson steered the ship well for them. But I thought we were more of an attacking threat.

"If we can keep the ball, go through the phases and get some width we will make chances.

"It's important that we play heads up rugby and attack what's in front of us regardless of structure.

"It was our first game back and we haven't had a lot of rugby but we will improve and hopefully we can be even more of an attacking threat."

But Wales still have concerns over Gethin Jenkins and Matthew Rees, who formed an all-Wales front-row with Jones during the second Test in Pretoria two year's ago.

Jenkins missed the entire Six Nations following toe surgery and is yet to make his comeback while captain Rees is still struggling with the neck injury that ruled him out of the first encounter with England.

The pair may miss the remainder of Wales' World Cup preparations but forwards coach Robin McBryde admits the crocked duo are indispensible and will travel to New Zealand regardless of whether they get any game-time.

"There are no major concerns about Gethin. We would've liked to have seen him play last weekend but he was not quite right," said McBryde.

"We are not going to rush or risk anyone at this stage.

"There are certain players who warrant a certain amount of special attention and those two individuals fall into that category.

"Looking at how important they have been to us in the past, we would take Gethin and Matthew if they had not played any rugby."

One player certain to miss the September showpiece tournament is Morgan Stoddart. The fullback suffered an compound fracture to his left leg during the clash at Twickenham and faces an extended period on the sidelines.

Stoddart has now had successful surgery on the horrific injury at Charing Cross hospital and will return to Wales today to begin his recovery.
 

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