Warburton axed in Wales shake-up

Wed, 14 Nov 2012 13:23
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Ryan Jones will lead Wales against Samoa this weekend after Sam Warburton was dropped to the bench in one of eight changes to Rob Howley's side.

Ryan Jones will lead Wales against Samoa this weekend after Sam Warburton was dropped to the bench in one of eight changes to Rob Howley's side.

Three of the changes have been forced through injury, whilst the rest come with the short six-day turnaround between matches in mind as Wales look to bounce back from their defeat to Argentina last week.

Up front Ospreys flank Justin Tipuric takes over from Warburton with fellow Osprey Jones also joining the loose trio in place of the injured Josh Turnbull.

Lock Bradley Davies comes into the second row in place of the injured Alun Wyn Jones - with both Turnbull and Jones ruled out for the rest of the series.

Richard Hibbard starts in the front row, replacing hooker Matthew Rees who was unavailable for selection this week with a calf problem. Prop Paul James completes the changes up front replacing Gethin Jenkins who provides cover from the bench.

In the backs Mike Phillips replaces Tavis Knoyle at scrumhalf and Osprey Dan Biggar comes in for Scarlets flyhalf Rhys Priestland. Finally, Ashley Beck completes his return from a hip injury to partner Jamie Roberts in the centre in place of Scarlet Scott Williams.

Hooker Ken Owens and prop Scott Andrews provide the front row cover on the bench and lock Luke Charteris completes the reserves.

"With a short six day turnaround it was important for us to freshen things up and also make use of the competition for places we have within this squad, something which has been a key ingredient for the success of the squad over the last 18 months," said Howley.

"In making changes we also needed to bring in some genuine experience. It is important to have leaders throughout the team and we are hoping the likes of Mike Phillips, who made a positive impact last week, can bring his experience to the side.

"Ryan reaches an impressive personal milestone, it will be a huge honour for him but in the context of what happened last week his and the team's priorities are about producing a performance.

"We know we are under pressure to perform and that pressure is greatest from within. This squad has shown in the past that we have the character and resilience to get back to winning ways. We have every confidence that we will come back strongly on Friday night," he added.

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Ashley Beck, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Ryan Jones (captain), 5 Ian Evans, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paul James.      
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Gethin Jenkins, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Luke Charteris, 20 Sam Warburton, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Scott Williams.

Date: Friday, November 16
Venue: Millenium Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 19.30 GMT
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Jérôme Garces (France)
TMO: Giulio De Santis (Italy)