Jones is dropped by Wales

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The Independent Online
Robert Jones, the former Lions scrum-half, was yesterday told he was surplus to requirements for Wales' opening World Cup match.

The Welsh selectors will give Jones' replacement, Andrew Moore, and 20- year-old Gareth Thomas their first caps in the game against Japan in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

And they provoked more comment by moving Neil Jenkins into the centre from his accustomed stand-off position, then keeping the former captain Gareth Llewellyn at lock despite pre-tournament indications that he would be switched to a new role on the flank.

In all, Wales have made eight changes, plus the Jenkins' positional switch, from the side beaten by Ireland in March.

Cardiff's Moore said that the 29-year-old Jones, who is just one cap away from equalling Gareth Edwards' record 53 appearances as a Wales scrum- half, was the first player to congratulate him when the team was announced.

"It was a nice gesture. Perhaps I am a bit more physical than him in my approach, but I would rather be seen as scrum-half than as an extra back-row forward," said the 26-year-old Moore.

"I'm sure the success of my club, Cardiff, has helped me win this first cap. Terry Holmes, who was my schoolboy hero, has been a great influence in his role as one of Cardiff's coaching staff."

The Welsh coach, Alex Evans, would not be drawn on whether Jones would get a game in either of next week's group matches.

But he predicted successful debuts for both Moore and Thomas, who is 6ft 3in tall, weighs over 151/2 stone and has risen rapidly to the top after just one senior season with Bridgend and only three caps at under- 21 level. Thomas, a centre at club level but now selected for Wales on the left wing, said: "I came here, I thought, as understudy for Mike Hall and felt I would only get a game if an injury came along to one of the other players."

WALES (v Japan, Bloemfontein, Saturday): A Clement (Swansea); I Evans (Llanelli), M Hall (Cardiff, capt), N Jenkins (Pontypridd), G Thomas (Bridgend); A Davies (Cardiff), A Moore (Cardiff); M Griffiths (Cardiff), G Jenkins (Swansea), J Davies (Neath), D Jones (Cardiff), G Llewellyn (Neath), S Davies (Swansea), E Lewis (Cardiff), H Taylor (Cardiff). Replacements: W Proctor (Llanelli), D Evans (Treorchy), R Jones (Swansea), S Roy (Cardiff), R Evans (Llanelli), J Humphries (Cardiff).