Wales team v England

Warren Gatland has picked Gareth Williams at hooker for the Six Nations opener against England on Saturday after losing Matthew Rees to a groin injury.

Gareth Williams
Gareth Williams

Tom James is selected on the right wing ahead of Leigh Halfpenny. Whilst Lee Byrne’s availability after his ban was overturned has allowed him to name a new-look back line, James Hook moving to centre outside Jamie Roberts.

Gareth Cooper wins the scrum-half berth ahead of Richie Rees, while Luke Charteris retains his spot at lock. Captain Ryan Jones remains in his favoured number eight berth, with Andy Powell staying at blind-side flanker.

Warren Gatland said: (quote) We have a pretty settled pack at the moment with our captain playing particularly well and Andy Powell settling into the blind-side role with some great performances for the Blues. Andy is looking comfortable there, in his last couple of performances for the Blues he has been error free and very strong and we are looking for him to keep that up at international level. It is a big game for the second rows not just because of the standard of the opposition we are up against but also because we have a number of players competing for a starting spot.

We are looking for the likes of Luke Charteris to really nail his performance. We have 10 players in the starting line-up who were with the Lions in South Africa in the summer and now is the time for those individuals to show the confidence and leadership qualities which that trip produced. (end quote)

Team

Lee Byrne (Ospreys); Tom James (Blues), James Hook (Ospreys), Jamie Roberts (Blues), Shane Williams (Ospreys); Stephen Jones (Scarlets); Gareth Cooper (Blues); Gethin Jenkins (Blues), Gareth Williams (Blues), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Dragons), Andy Powell (Blues), Martyn Williams (Blues), Ryan Jones (Ospreys, capt).
Replacements: Huw Bennett (Ospreys), Paul James (Ospreys), Bradley Davies (Blues), Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys), Richie Rees (Blues), Andrew Bishop (Ospreys), Leigh Halfpenny (Blues).

RBS SIX NATIONS – ENGLAND v WALES Twickenham Saturday, 6 February Kick-off: 1700 GMT