Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wales boss Gatland warns Martyn Williams and Ryan Jones

Coach Warren Gatland says that veteran Wales flanker Martyn Williams and skipper Ryan Jones must improve their displays against France on Friday.

Wales rescued an incredible last-gasp 31-24 win against Scotland in their last championship game in Cardiff.

But Williams, Jones and Andy Powell - now dropped for disciplinary reasons - were outshone by Scotland's back-row and must up their game against France.

"We missed, I think, 10 tackles between them," Gatland said.

"Martyn's missed a few tackles and he's been the first to put his hand up and needs to rectify his performance and get it right and he normally responds exceptionally well to that.

"I think what's pleased me about Martyn in the last week or so is he's recognised that as a loose-forward trio we probably didn't do so well against Scotland.

"So it's a sign of his experienced leadership in the squad, and for Ryan I think he's developed well into a captain.

"He's showing really good signs in terms of the way he's leading this team. He doesn't speak for the sake of speaking and he's starting to let his rugby do the talking.

"But he knows himself after his performance against Scotland he needs to go up a notch against France."

Williams, 33, will equal Colin Charvis' 94-cap record for a Wales forward when he runs out at the Millennium Stadium against the Grand Slam-chasing French.

"It's a great milestone for Martyn," Gatland added. "I think it's a fantastic achievement for him.

Jonathan Thomas switches from lock to back-row to fill the gap vacated by Powell's banishment from the squad after being charged with drink-driving following an incident with a golf buggy on the morning after the win against Scotland.

Jones' inclusion was the major talking point when Gatland announced the team on Monday, with Luke Charteris only getting a place on the bench despite his man-of-the-match show for the Dragons at Ulster.

Gatland also admits that picking Mike Phillips on the bench - despite the British and Irish Lions star playing just 40 minutes of rugby in four months - is a gamble.

Phillips has been selected ahead of Dwayne Peel - who has missed only a month of action recently with a groin strain - as the back-up to Richie Rees of the Blues.

While Phillips came on for the second half of the Ospreys' 19-17 win over Connacht in the Magners League on Sunday, Peel played the full game when Sale lost 19-10 to Leeds on Friday.

Gatland cited the precedents of Ireland hooker Jerry Flannery recently returning to Test action after injury and Scotland having Mike Blair on the bench against Wales following a lengthy lay-off.

Gatland said of Phillips: "Even though he's not 100% match fit, he's medically fit and he gives us something a little bit different.

Gatland admits he was wrong to pick Cooper to start against Scotland, with Rees having made a strong case for the starting nine shirt with his performances off the bench.

Ireland V Wales Hospitality

Six Nations Hospitality

1 comment:

  1. There are really awesome 6 Nations holidays to have for this year. you should watch them.