Rees ruled out for Wales

Wales have suffered an injury blow ahead of Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations opener against England with Lions hooker Matthew Rees sidelined for the Twickenham clash.

Wales have suffered an injury blow ahead of Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations opener against England with Lions hooker Matthew Rees sidelined for the Twickenham clash.

Rees has been ruled out with a recurrence of groin trouble, so Cardiff Blues’ Gareth Williams packs down in the front-row alongside props Gethin Jenkins and Adam Jones.

Full-back Lee Byrne starts after winning an appeal last night against a two-week ban imposed on him following his brief appearance as an illegal 16th player during Ospreys’ Heineken Cup victory over Leicester 11 days ago.

Byrne’s availability means Wales coach Warren Gatland is able to field a centre partnership of James Hook and Jamie Roberts.

Had Byrne been sidelined, then Hook would probably have continued in the number 15 shirt he wore during Wales’ autumn Tests this season.

Elsewhere, Tom James edges out his Blues colleague Leigh Halfpenny for the right-wing role, while Blues scrum-half Gareth Cooper also starts, filling the vacancy created by injuries to Lions number nines Mike Phillips and Dwayne Peel.

Wales team to play England at Twickenham on Saturday:

L Byrne (Ospreys); T James (Cardiff Blues), J Hook (Ospreys), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), S Williams (Ospreys); S Jones (Scarlets), G Cooper (Cardiff Blues); G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), G Williams (Cardiff Blues), A Jones (Ospreys), A-W Jones (Ospreys), L Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), A Powell (Cardiff Blues), M Williams (Cardiff Blues), R Jones (Ospreys, capt).

Replacements:

H Bennett (Ospreys), P James (Ospreys), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), J Thomas (Ospreys), R Rees (Cardiff Blues), A Bishop (Ospreys), L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues).

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