Gatland names side for England Test
August 4, 2011
Jones is set to make history on Saturday for Wales against England © Getty Images
Stephen Jones will become Wales' most capped player after being named at fly-half for Saturday's clash with England at Twickenham.
The Scarlets playmaker will make his 101st appearance - and will be partnered by Mike Phillips at half-back - while Rhys Priestland will start at fullback in place of Morgan Stoddart who took the berth for Wales' previous Test against the Barbarians on June 4. Jamie Roberts also makes his comeback to the national side and will start at inside centre in place of Gavin Henson while Shane Williams replaces Aled Brew on the wing.
Up front prop Craig Mitchell comes in for Ryan Bevington, who moves to the bench, with Paul James switching sides of the scrum. The second-row sees the return of Bradley Davies and Alun Wyn-Jones - who wins his 50th cap - and they will replace Ryan Jones and Luke Charteris who both move to the bench. The young back-row which started against the Barbarians is retained with Sam Warburton, Toby Faletau and Dan Lydiate all featuring from the off. Warburton retains the captaincy following an injury to Matthew Rees.
Joining Bevington, Jones and Charteris on the bench as cover for the forwards is Dragons hooker Lloyd Burns, backline cover is provided by Scarlets trio Tavis Knoyle (scrum-half), Scott Williams (centre) and Stoddart (wing/fullback). Williams has just 20 games for the Scarlets underneath his belt and was a shock call-up to Warren Gatland's squad for the match against the Barbarians on June 4.
"We have made changes but we have some pretty established combinations coming back with Jamie Roberts returning to the midfield and Alun Wyn and Bradley in the second row," said Wales coach Gatland.
"These are the men in possession of the jersey at the moment and it is now up to them to hold on to it and they will only do that with a performance at Twickenham at the weekend. The stakes are high for individuals, but as a team it is also important for us to create some momentum as we head for the World Cup in New Zealand."
Assistant coach Rob Howley praised Jones' achievement and tipped Priestland to impress at fullbaack. "It is a tremendous achievement for Stephen, but he had all the well deserved accolades when he won his 100th cap and the spotlight this weekend should really go to Alun Wyn on winning his 50th," Howley said.
"We are fielding nine of the players who played in the final Six Nations match this year and have some senior men coming back in with Jamie and Shane bringing a wealth of experience. At fullback Rhys has done very well for the Scarlets and we have an opportunity to test him now at this level and we are sure he won't let anyone down."
Adam Jones has not been considered due to a toe problem while James Hook is managing a neck problem. Fullback Lee Byrne is suffering from a knee injury and Gethin Jenkins is taking extra time to recover from his injury troubles. Meanwhile Leigh Halfpenny has targeted the Argentina Test for his comeback after suffering an ankle injury.
Wales: Rhys Priestland; George North, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Shane Williams; Stephen Jones, Michael Phillips; Paul James, Huw Bennett, Craig Mitchell, Bradley Davies, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton (C), Toby Faletau.
Replacements: Lloyd Burns, Ryan Bevington, Luke Charteris, Ryan Jones, Tavis Knoyle, Scott Williams, Morgan Stoddart
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