WALES coach Warren Gatland has made two changes for the RBS 6 Nations clash against Scotland on Saturday — but lock Alun-Wyn Jones keeps his place.
Jones was sin-binned during Wales’ 30-17 defeat at Twickenham on Saturday, and England scored 17 unanswered points in his absence. British and Irish Lions Test player Jones was strongly criticised by a furious Gatland after the game, but has avoided the humiliation of being dropped.
Cardiff Blues wing Leigh Halfpenny returns to the side instead of his Blues colleague Tom James, while Ospreys forward Jonathan Thomas replaces lock Luke Charteris following a poor display by the Welsh lineout at Twickenham.
Prop Gethin Jenkins, who missed the England loss due to a calf muscle injury, is one of five Blues players named on the bench. Jenkins though, faces further fitness checks later this week.
Scrum-half and hooker were also areas of possible scrutiny for Gatland, but he has decided to retain the Blues pair of Gareth Cooper and Gareth Williams.
Gatland said: “Jonathan Thomas brings more than 50 caps of experience to the tight five and offers us some extra mobility around the field.
“Leigh Halfpenny is a recognised right wing who offers us an extra kicking option, and his return to full fitness after limited training in the run-up to the England game allows his selection.
“We are pleased to be able to name Gethin Jenkins, although he will undergo further fitness assessments later in the week.”
Despite the England defeat, Wales could still make an assault on the Six Nations title, especially as three of their remaining four games — starting against Scotland — are in Cardiff.
The Scots have not triumphed in the Welsh capital since 2002, while they can only claim three Six Nations wins from 25 starts on the road.
Gatland added: “We were all disappointed with the result last weekend.
“But the good news for these players is that they have an opportunity now, seven days after losing a game we all feel we could have won, to bounce back against Scotland.”
Meanwhile, Phil Godman yesterday paid the price for Scotland’s opening RBS 6 Nations defeat to France as Dan Parks was recalled at fly-half.
Parks’ return was one of three changes from Sunday’s 18-9 loss at Murrayfield, with prop star Euan Murray and back-three man Rory Lamont also back in the starting XV.
Lamont was named on the left wing, with brother Sean surprisingly moved to outside centre in place of Max Evans.
Moray Low also drops out from Sunday’s team, while co-captain Mike Blair is back on the bench.
Saturday’s game sees Chris Paterson become the first Scot to make 100 international appearances and he will be presented with a specially-commissioned cap to mark the occasion after the match at the Millennium Stadium.
The ever-modest 31-year-old is eager for the occasion not to become the Chris Paterson show and winced upon learning a post-match function in Cardiff had been arranged in his honour.
“In many ways, it is just another cap, it’s another number,” said the full-back.
“I’m hugely proud of achieving it and getting on the field is certainly something I’m looking forward to.”
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