Six Ospreys to start against England

James Hook, Shane Williams, Mike Phillips, Paul James, Craig Mitchell and Alun Wyn Jones will all start for Wales against England at the Millennium Stadium on Friday evening.



In addition, there will be another four Ospreys on the bench, with Richard Hibbard, Ryan Jones, Jonathan Thomas and Lee Byrne all named as replacements.

Wales assistant coach Rob Howley has predicted his side’s meeting with England in the RBS 6 Nations opener at the Millennium Stadium on Friday night will be “a battle of inches not yards.”

Howley is in charge of a back line which sees Scarlets wing Morgan Stoddart return to international duty for the first time since the Autumn of 2008 and finds a place for Osprey James Hook at full back with his regional colleague Lee Byrne on the bench.

Elsewhere the centre partnership of Jamie Roberts (Blues) and Jonathan Davies (Scarlets) which proved successful on the recent summer tour of New Zealand is restored with halfbacks Mike Phillips (Ospreys) and Stephen Jones (Scarlets) also retained.

Former IRB World Player of the Year Shane Williams (Ospreys) has returned from injury to take up his place on the wing and complete the back three alongside Stoddart and Hook.

Up front 25-year-old Ospreys tight-head Craig Mitchell wins his first start and his fifth cap alongside captain Matthew Rees (Scarlets) at hooker and regional colleague Paul James on the other side of the scrum.

The regular pairing of Alun-Wyn Jones (Ospreys) and Bradley Davies (Blues) make up the second row with Blues youngster Sam Warburton joining Dragons blindside Dan Lydiate on the flanks together with Wasps No8 Andy Powell.

“In the front row we have two guys who have done well at regional level and know each others games either side of our leader and the Lions hooker in Matthew Rees, so we are comfortable with the selection,” said Howley.

“The second row has been consistent in recent times and we have two good youngsters who have both been playing exceptionally well coming into the back row.

“Dan (Lydiate) was magnificent for us in the autumn and Sam (Warburton) has been going great for the Blues in Europe recently and there is a nice balance there with the ball carrying abilities of Andy Powell completing the trio.

“This is going to be a battle of inches and not yards and we know the pack can dominate like they did in our Autumn games we are in with a good chance.

“We did debate selection at fly half and elsewhere in the backs but we feel we have settled on the right pairing there with the experience they offer. 

“Lee Byrne misses out solely through virtue of the fact he has had limited game time after injury and he will offer us some impact from the bench, which is fairly experienced in itself and will undoubtedly be utilised during the evening.

“We are playing England at the home of Welsh rugby at the start of the Rugby World Cup year so we are looking to get ourselves of to a great start and create some momentum and I can’t think of a better place for a Welshman to do that.”

On the bench Rhys Priestland is the only uncapped player – he will be Wales’ 1,079th player if he gets on – where he is joined by a wealth of experience in Sale scrum-half Dwayne Peel, lock/back row Ryan Jones and Jonathan Thomas (both Ospreys), Blues prop John Yapp, Ospreys hooker Richard Hibbard and the 38-times capped Byrne.

WALES: James Hook; Morgan Stoddart, Jamie Roberts, Jonathan Davies, Shane Williams; Stephen Jones, Mike Phillips; Paul James, Matthew Rees (C), Craig Mitchell, Bradley Davies, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton, Andy Powell?REPLACEMENTS: Richard Hibbard, John Yapp, Ryan Jones, Jonathan Thomas, Dwayne Peel, Rhys Priestland, Lee Byrne


  15 James HOOK (OSPREYS– Cap No 1,047)

  DoB: 27.06.85. 6’0” / 1.83m. 14st 12lbs / 94kgs

  International record: 47 caps (W 18, L 27, D 2; 237 pts – 11T, 34C, 35PG, 3DG)


  14 Morgan STODDART (SCARLETS – Cap No 1,056)

  DoB: 23.09.84.  6’1” / 1.86m. 14st 13lbs / 95kgs

  International record: 3 caps (W 1, L 2; 10 pts – 2T)


  13 Jamie ROBERTS (CARDIFF BLUES – Cap No 1,057)

  DoB: 08.11.86.  6’4” / 1.93m. 17st 5lbs / 110kgs

  International record: 24 caps (W 10, L 14; 10 pts – 2T)


  12 Jonathan DAVIES (SCARLETS – Cap No 1,066)

  DoB:05.04.88. 6’1” / 1.86m. 16st 3lb / 103kgs

  International record: 7 caps (W 4, L 3; 10 pts – 2T)


  11 Shane WILLIAMS (OSPREYS – Cap No 976)

  DoB: 26.02.77. 5’7” / 1.71m. 12st 1lb / 77kgs

  International record: 75 caps (W 35, L 38, D 2; 255 pts – 51T)


  10 Stephen JONES (SCARLETS– Cap No 966)

  DoB: 08.12.77.  6'1” / 1.86m.  14st 7lbs / 92kgs

  International record: 95 caps (W 39, L 53, D 3; 859 pts - 7T, 136C, 178PG, 6DG)


  9 Michael PHILLIPS (OSPREYS– Cap No 1,022)

  DoB: 29.08.82. 6’3” / 1.91m. 15st 10lb / 101kgs

  International record: 46 caps (W 21, L 23, D 2; 20 pts – 4T)


  1 Paul JAMES (OSPREYS – Cap No 1,021)

  DoB: 13.05.82. 6’1” / 1.86m. 18st 2lbs / 115kgs

  International record: 17 caps (W 5, L 11, D 1)


  2 Matthew REES (SCARLETS, CAPTAIN– Cap No 1,033)

  DoB: 09.12.80. 6’0” / 1.83m. 17st 1lbs / 108kgs

  International record: 42 caps (W 17, L 24, D 1; 10 pts – 2T)


  3 Craig MITCHELL (OSPREYS – Cap No 1,068)

  DoB: 03.05.86. 6’1” / 1.85m. 17st 2lbs / 109kgs

  International record: 4 caps (W 3, L 1)


  4 Bradley DAVIES (CARDIFF BLUES – Cap No 1,065)

  DoB: 09.01.87.  6’6” / 1.98m. 19st 1lbs / 121kgs

  International record: 17 caps (W 6, L 10, D 1)


  5 Alun Wyn JONES (OSPREYS– Cap No 1,046)

  DoB: 19.09.85. 6’5” / 1.96m. 18st 10lbs / 119kgs

  International record: 43 caps (W 16, L 27; 25 pts – 5T)



  DoB: 18.12.87. 1.93m / 6’4”. 17st 10lbs / 112kgs

  International record: 5 caps (W 1, L 3, D 1)


  7 Sam WARBURTON (CARDIFF BLUES – Cap No 1,070)

  DoB: 05.10.88. 1.88m / 6’2”. 16st 4lbs / 103kgs

  International record: 9 caps (W 4, L 5)


  8 Andy POWELL (LONDON WASPS – Cap No 1,061)

  DoB: 23.08.81. 6’4” / 1.94m. 18st 0lbs / 114kgs

  International record: 16 caps (W 8, L 8)




  16 Richard HIBBARD (OSPREYS – Cap No 1,048)

  DoB: 13.12.83. 6’0” / 1.83m. 17st 7lbs / 111kgs

  International record: 9 caps (W 3, L 6)


  17 John YAPP (CARDIFF BLUES – Cap No 1,031)

  DoB: 09.04.83. 6’2” / 1.88m. 19st 4lbs / 122.4kgs

  International record: 17 caps (W 12, L 5)


  18 Ryan JONES (OSPREYS– Cap No 1,029)

  DoB: 13.03.81. 6’5” / 1.96m. 17st 5lbs / 110kgs

  International record: 46 caps (W 23, L 21, D 2; 5 pts – 1T)


  19 Jonathan THOMAS (OSPREYS– Cap No 1,013)

  DoB: 27.12.82. 6’5” / 1.96m. 17st 7lbs / 111kgs

  International record: 62 caps (W 27, L 32, D 3; 35 pts – 7T)


  20 Dwayne PEEL (SALE SHARKS– Cap No 994)

  DoB: 31.08.81. 5’9” / 1.76m. 13st 8lbs / 86kgs

  International record: 74 caps (W 35, L 37, D 2; 25 pts – 5T)



  DoB: 07.01.87 1.82m / 6’0”. 13st 9lbs / 87kgs

  International record: Uncapped


  22 Lee BYRNE (OSPREYS– Cap No 1,041)

  DoB: 01.06.80. 6'3" / 1.91m. 14st 12lb / 94kgs

  International record: 38 caps (W 14, L 22, D 2; 45 pts – 9T)