Relieved star Byrne raring to go after ban reprieve

WALES full-back Lee Byrne has spoken of his relief after being cleared to face England this afternoon – and he intends to hit the ground running at Twickenham.

Ospreys star Lee Byrne has seen a two-week ban quashed following a successful appeal after his brief appearance as an illegal 16th player during the Heineken Cup victory over Leicester 11 days ago.

Now Byrne is leaving all thoughts of the controversy behind him.

“I’m absolutely over the moon to be honest, I’m just glad to put the last four or five days behind me and be back on familiar ground preparing for a game of rugby rather than thinking about an appeal hearing,” said Byrne.

“All thoughts of the case are now immediately out of my mind, I’ve missed one training session in getting to Glasgow, but we are at the business end of the training week and all my focus now must be on Twickenham.

“There’s no pressure on me now to perform at the weekend is there... after all the effort everyone has put in on my behalf?” he joked.

“I’m really looking forward to getting back on the field at Twickenham and there’s nothing like starting back with the big one against England in a centenary game.

“We started the campaign in 2008 with a win against them at Twickenham for the first time in 20 years and look what happened then, it’s all about winning that first game and then building some momentum.”

Wales hope James Hook can be the centre of attention at Twickenham on Saturday and end any debate about his best position in Test match rugby.

Hook has struggled to shake off the ‘Mr Versatile’ tag during a 37-cap career which began in 2006.

But Wales believe it could be a case of lucky 13 for the gifted 24-year-old, whose midfield partnership with fellow Lion Jamie Roberts promises considerable reward.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland delayed his team announcement until yesterday in the hope Byrne would become available, and his presence means Hook can now start in a fourth different position for Wales – but potentially his most potent.

Hook is among 10 Lions from last summer’s South Africa tour in Gatland’s line-up as Wales seek a fourth successive Six Nations win over England.

It would have been 11, but hooker Matthew Rees has suffered a recurrence of groin trouble, so 30-year-old Cardiff Blues forward Gareth Williams packs down between Lions props Gethin Jenkins and Adam Jones.


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