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Ospreys and Blues dominate as Rees starts for Wales

Guinness PRO12 Editor

23 Feb 2010

Wales coach Warren Gatland has named eight Ospreys and six Blues in his starting XV for the Six Nations clash with France this Friday.

The Scarlets are the only other side represented in Gatland’s starting line up through fly-half Stephen Jones.

Cardiff Blues scrum-half Richie Rees will make his first start for Wales following two replacement appearances against England and Scotland, with club-mate Gareth Cooper missing out on the matchday 22 altogether.

Ospreys No9 Mike Phillips earns a shock place on the bench following a second-half appearance against Connacht on Sunday, with Gatland relatively unconcerned that Phillips has spent four months on the sidelines through injury.

Ospreys flanker Jonathan Thomas and hooker Huw Bennett replace the suspended Andy Powell and the injured Gareth Williams, while Blues duo Bradley Davies and Deniol Jones form a new second-row partnership.

"Deiniol has been in very good form for the Blues and he has the opportunity to partner his regional colleague (Bradley Davies) which should help both players settle in quickly," said Gatland.

"Bradley deserves his chance. He has been around this squad since he has been a youngster but he has worked hard and is in great physical shape and has the potential to be a great player.

“We are developing some strength in depth in the second row and Luke (Charteris) was impressive for the Dragons over the weekend so we will be looking for him to make an impact from the bench if he gets the chance.

"Jonathan Thomas moves to the back row but he will also hopefully have an impact at line-out time alongside Bradley and Deiniol. He runs that area for the Ospreys and has been doing a good job.

"Richie has played himself into the starting line-up and deserves his chance, but once we had decided on his selection we couldn’t ignore the opportunity to bring Mike Phillips back into the fold.”

Sacrlets hooker Ken Owens and Saracens prop Rhys Gill, the only non-Magners League player in the 22, will be making their international debuts if called upon from the bench.

Ospreys skipper Ryan Jones will lead Wales out at the Millennium Stadium, with Gatland naming a starting XV that includes nine British & Irish Lions despite the absence of Gethin Jenkins, Alun Wyn Jones, Matthew Rees and Powell.


Lee Byrne (Ospreys), Leigh Halfpenny (Blues), James Hook (Ospreys), Jamie Roberts (Blues), Shane Williams (Ospreys), Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Richard Rees (Blues); Paul James, Huw Bennett, Adam Jones (all Ospreys), Bradley Davies, Deiniol Jones (both Blues), Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys), Martyn Williams (Blues), Ryan Jones (Ospreys, captain)

Replacements: Ken Owens (Scarlets), Rhys Gill (Saracens), Luke Charteris (Dragons), Sam Warburton (Blues), Mike Phillips, Andrew Bishop (both Ospreys), Tom Shanklin (Blues)