Williams, Rees to miss Wales' SA clash

Wales have suffered a double injury blow ahead of next Saturday’s clash against world champions South Africa at the Millennium Stadium.

Wales have suffered a double injury blow ahead of next Saturday’s clash against world champions South Africa at the Millennium Stadium.

Wing Shane Williams and hooker Matthew Rees will both miss the Springboks clash.

But Williams’ Ospreys colleague, centre Gavin Henson, remains on course for an international return after being named in caretaker coach Nigel Davies’ reduced 24-man squad.

Williams and Rees apart, five other players – Ian Gough, Ceri Sweeney, Gareth Cooper, Adam Jones and Morgan Stoddart – have not made the cut from an initial 31-strong group.

Williams’ absence means 20-year-old Cardiff Blues prospect Tom James is likely to win his second cap, with Henson a strong contender in midfield.

Davies, who makes way for new Wales boss Warren Gatland on December 1, is due to name his starting line-up on Tuesday.

And he will select it against the back-drop of a poor weekend for Wales’ regional sides in Europe after the Ospreys, Newport Gwent Dragons and Llanelli Scarlets all lost, while Cardiff drew away to Harlequins.

Davies said: “Shane Williams would be a loss for any team, but Tom James is an exciting wing who gets an opportunity to come into the fold.

“Gavin Henson has moved his game on another step and is showing signs of playing like his old self again. He also offers us a variety of options, and the whole of Wales are looking forward to seeing his form continue to improve.”

Six of the group chosen by Davies were not part of Wales’ 2007 World Cup squad - Henson, James, Ospreys full-back Lee Byrne, Blues flanker Robin Sowden-Taylor and Newport Gwent Dragons forwards Rhys Thomas and Luke Charteris.

The Wales squad will move from their traditional Vale of Glamorgan base to Saundersfoot on the Pembrokeshire coast this week.

Davies added: “It will be a slightly different environment. We have already said we are going to be challenging these players and doing whatever we can in order to get the best out of them on Saturday afternoon.”

Squad:

Backs: Byrne (Ospreys), M Jones (Llanelli Scarlets), James (Cardiff Blues), Shanklin (Cardiff Blues), Robinson (Cardiff Blues), Henson (Ospreys), Parker (Ospreys), S Jones (Llanelli Scarlets), Hook (Ospreys), Phillips (Ospreys), Peel (Llanelli Scarlets).

Forwards – D Jones (Ospreys), Jenkins (Cardiff Blues, capt), R Thomas (Newport Gwent Dragons), T R Thomas (Cardiff Blues), Bennett (Ospreys), Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), Owen (Newport Gwent Dragons), Evans (Ospreys), A W Jones (Ospreys), Sowden-Taylor (Cardiff Blues), Charvis (Newport Gwent Dragons), Popham (Llanelli (Scarlets), J Thomas (Ospreys).

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