Planet Rugby

Howley opts for experience

05th March 2013 17:19


Alun-Wyn jones

Physicality and experience: Alun-Wyn Jones

Wales coach Rob Howley has explained that Alun-Wyn Jones' experience was key in the decision to alter the Welsh second row for Saturday's clash with Scotland at Murrayfield.

Jones will start his first Test since suffering a shoulder injury against Argentina in November that required surgery.

Howley sympathised with Dragons lock Andrew Coombs, who has been outstanding in his debut Six Nations campaign, but underlined the importance of lining up a Test veteran against in-form Scottish locks Richie Gray and Jim Hamilton as Coombs drops to the bench.

"The attributes of physicality and experience will be pretty important on Saturday, particularly in the front five," said Howley.

"Andrew Coombs can be extremely proud of his performances - he has been outstanding.

"As I said to him this morning, he couldn't have done anything more, and the fact that a British Lion with 68 caps is coming in to replace him I think shows how well Andrew has done.

"Alun-Wyn has been an integral part of this squad over the last few years. I am sure we will use all his experience on Saturday."

Ryan Jones remains as skipper despite the return of last season's Grand Slam captain Sam Warburton.

"Ryan (Jones) has led the team to two wins and deserves to captain the side against Scotland," added Howley.

"I don't see any reason to change the dynamics. Ryan has been a great leader over the last two or three weeks.

"I explained that situation to Sam. Obviously, he is disappointed. It is about the team dynamics, it is about how Ryan has led.

"There was a lot of discussion, particularly at seven. We are really fortunate to have two world-class sevens in Sam and Justin (Tipuric).

"We looked at our performance against Italy, and we've looked at Scotland and the contact area and breakdown, and we just feel that 'Warby' has got a slight edge in that department.

"I've spoken to Justin and Sam, and we feel this is the best back row to go with for Saturday against Scotland."

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