Michalak on bench for Frogs

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Michalak on bench for Frogs

Freddie Michalak has received a late call up to replace Jean Baptiste Elissalde in Saturday’s battle with Scotland.

Elissalde was named among the replacements for the Six Nations opener but left the training ground onThursday to undergo scans to his calf. Michalak, the former Sharks flyhalf, takes his spot on the bench.

Elissalde is likely to be ready for the next clash against Ireland.

Jenkins fails fitness test

Gethin Jenkins has withdrawn from Saturday’s Test against England and will be replaced by Paul James.

Jenkins picked up a calf problem in training and has failed to recover. His withdrawal sees Ospreys prop James elevated to the starting line-up and the uncapped Rhys Gill coming onto the bench.

‘Paul James has been one of the form props in the Welsh regions so far this season and we are confident he will be a more than able deputy for Gethin,’ said Wales head coach Warren Gatland. ‘Obviously it’s not ideal for us to lose Gethin at this stage and we wish him a speedy recovery.’

Byrne in, Rees out

Warren Gatland has named fullback Lee Byrne in Wales’ starting line-up to face England on Saturday, but will be without hooker Matthew Rees.

Gatland has selected a stong Welsh outfit, which includes 10 British and Irish Lions who travelled to South Africa last season.

Byrne was given the go-ahead on Wednesday after successfully appealing his two-week ban and will start at Twickeham.

Prop Adam Jones also returns to international rugby after missing the November Tests due to injury, while James Hook has been selected out of position at outside centre.

Wales will, however, be without the influential Rees, who is suffering from a groin injury. Cardiff Blues hooker Gareth Williams will start in the No 2 jersey.

Wales – 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Tom James, 13 James Hook, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Gareth Cooper, 8 Ryan Jones (c), 7 Martyn Williams, 6 Andy Powell, 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Alun-Wyn Jones, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Gareth Williams, 1 Gareth Jenkins.
Subs: 16 Huw Bennett, 17 Paul James, 18 Bradley Davies, 19 Jonathan Thomas, 20 Richard Rees, 21 Andrew Bishop, 22 Leigh Halfpenny.

Gower at pivot for Azzuri

Craig Gower continues to battle with injury but has been named in the Italian starting side for the match against Ireland.

Gower missed two days of training this week with a quad niggle and final call on his fitness will be made on Friday. It would be a big blow considering Italy are without their captain Sergio Parisse, who is sidelined with a knee injury.

Hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini will captain the side in Parisse’s absence. Riccardo Bocchino will make his debut at flyhalf if Gower fails to recover.

Italy – 15 Luke McLean, 14 Kaine Robertson, 13 Gonzalo Canale, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Mirco Bergamasco, 10 Craig Gower, 9 Tito Tebaldi; 8 Alessandro Zanni, 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Josh Sole, 5 Quintin Geldenhuys, 4 Carlo Antonio Del Fava, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini (c) 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Subs: 16 Fabio Ongaro, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 Marco Bortolami, 19 Paul Derbyshire, 20 Simon Picone, 21 Riccardo Bocchino, 22 Andrea Masi.

This thread will be updated during the course of the day…