Sweeney out to seize his opportunity
August 2, 2007
Ceri Sweeney is determined to showcase his World Cup credentials when he lines up for Wales at Twickenham on Saturday.
Sweeney will make only his third start in three years as Wales fly-half, but with an injured Gavin Henson ruled out of the tournament, the experienced Newport Gwent Dragons player could prove an important part of coach Gareth Jenkins' World Cup plans.
Stephen Jones, whose groin injury is not as bad as first feared, and Ospreys prodigy James Hook are leading challengers for the number 10 shirt in France.
But Sweeney's versatility - he can also play in the centre - will strengthen his World Cup claims.
Ahead of the match against England, he said: "I never gave up hope. I always thought I was good enough - it was just waiting for my chance.
"James (Hook) has come in and had a meteoric rise. He has played so well, he has warranted the selection. As long as I have the desire to play for Wales, I will keep going.
"I just want to have a good 80 minutes on Saturday and put my hand up. I have been chosen to do a job, and I must concentrate on my own game and the task ahead.
"The deadline for announcing the World Cup squad is August 14, so it is obviously in the back of your mind. I have a game first, and I hope it goes well."
Jones, meanwhile, will sit out Wales' remaining pre-tournament games later this month against Argentina and France.
But he is expected to be fully fit for the World Cup, which sees Wales open their campaign against Canada in Nantes on September 9.
Jenkins faced an anxious wait while the 62 times-capped Llanelli Scarlets star underwent scans on an injury suffered during Wales' training camp in Brittany last week.
But medical checks have revealed only a partial groin tendon tear, which means Jones will not have to undergo surgery.
Wales team physiotherapist Mark Davies said: "Stephen could have torn the tendon completely, and that would have required surgery, but this news means there will be no need to go down that road.
"He has a partial tear to the tendon in his left groin area which, following a period of treatment and rest, will progress and allow him to get back to full training by the end of August.
"The injury does mean he will take no part in the matches against France and Argentina, but he should be back to his best by the end of the month.
"Stephen is an important part of this squad. He is more than used to the kind of rehabilitation programme we will put him under, and we are confident he can get back to 100 per cent fitness."