Henson retained for decider

Keo.co.za brings you the latest team announcements from the Six Nations.

Henson retained for decider

Wales coach Warren Gatland has made eight changes to his team to face Ireland but has retained Gavin Henson at centre.

Henson has been injured for a large part of the campaign but started against Italy and Gatland has selected him ahead of Jamie Roberts, with Tom Shanklin earning a recall. Henson and Shanklin have won every Six Nations game they have started together.

The only other change in the backs sees James Hook replaced by Stephen Jones at 10 for the Millennium Stadium clash.

Most of the alterations come in the pack as only No 8 Andy Powell and lock Alun Wyn Jones retain their places.

Gatland recalls the entire front-row of Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees and Adam Jones, with lock Ian Gough replacing Luke Charteris, Martyn Williams taking over from Dafydd Jones and captain Ryan Jones in for Jonathan Thomas.

Wales need to win by 13 points or more if they wish to retain their title and Gatland believes it is not impossible.

‘I don’t mind admitting we have left ourselves with a lot to do to win the championship,’ said Gatland.

‘But, on the other hand, the 13-point deficit is by no means insurmountable.

‘There is also a Triple Crown at stake and we know only too well in Wales that Grand Slams don’t come cheaply. We’ve won two Grand Slams in the last decade and so all the pressure will be on Ireland to grab only the second in their history,’ he said.

‘With a healthy head start you have to say Ireland are probably favourites to take the title, but we are confident we can come up with a win.

‘And who knows what will happen if we can get ourselves ahead in the game and that Millennium Stadium factor begins to kick in.’

Wales - Lee Byrne (Ospreys); Mark Jones (Scarlets), Tom Shanklin (Blues), Gavin Henson (Ospreys), Shane Williams (Ospreys); Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Ospreys); Gethin Jenkins (Blues), Matthew Rees (Scarlets), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Ian Gough (Ospreys), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Ryan Jones (c, Ospreys), Martyn Williams (Blues), Andy Powell (Blues).
Subs: Huw Bennett (Ospreys), John Yapp (Blues), Luke Charteris (Dragons), Dafydd Jones (Scarlets), Warren Fury (London Irish), James Hook (Ospreys), Jamie Roberts (Blues).

Ireland change three

Ireland have recalled Jamie Heaslip, Tommas O’Leary and Jerry Flannery for the Six Nations decider against Wales.

The Irish are aiming for only their second Grand Slam since 1948 and coach Declan Kidney opted for continuity, with Gordon D’Arcy retained as Brian O’Driscoll’s centre partner.

‘The difference between the players is so small,’ said Kidney. ‘The changes were partly for tactical reasons. It’s about getting the right chemistry.’

Ireland – 15 Rob Kearney (Leinster); 14 Tommy Bowe (Ospreys), 13 Brian O’Driscoll (Leinster, c), 12 Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster) , 11 Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster); 10 Ronan O’Gara (Munster), 9 Tommas O’Leary (Munster); 1 Marcus Horan (Munster), 2 Jerry Flannery (Munster), 3 John Hayes (Munster), 4 Donncha O’Callaghan (Munster), 5 Paul O’Connell (Munster), 6 Stephen Ferris (Ulster), 7 David Wallace (Munster), 8 Jamie Heaslip (Leinster).

Subs: 16 Rory Best (Ulster), 17 Tom Court (Ulster), 18 Mick O’Driscoll (Leinster), 19 Dennis Leamy (Munster), 20 Peter Stringer (Munster), 21 Paddy Wallace (Ulster), 22 Geordan Murphy (Leicester).