Rugby Union: Happy landing for Jones

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ROBERT JONES has been rewarded for his 8,000-mile trip from Cape Town to Lisbon with his first full Welsh outing in 14 months, while Hemi Taylor's even longer trip from New Zealand to the Principality will finally earn the Cardiff flanker a cap against Portugal tonight.

The Morrinsville-born Maori will thus become the first Kiwi to represent Wales in what is likely to be one of the most bizarre internationals in their 113-year history.

This week's trek around the Iberian peninsula is Wales' punishment for failing to reach the quarter-finals of the 1991 World Cup, yet neither the Portuguese nor the Spaniards on Saturday are likely to cause the Five Nations champions any further embarrassment.

But why on earth at the end of an eight-month long season that saw them play six internationals did Wales agree, 'magnanimously' according to the World Cup organisers, to pay their penance away from home?

The Portuguese, who boast a mere 25 clubs and a playing population of less then 3,000, are expecting a crowd of around 4,000 for what is very much a minority sport. According to their national coach, the former Cambridge University and London Scottish scrum-half, Andy Cushing, it is also going to be something of a mismatch.

'The most important thing for us is the fact that we qualified to play against Wales. Whether or not we get stuffed isn't the point,' Cushing said, 'it's going to be very difficult for us given Wales' physical presence. But it is not a ques-

tion of how many points Wales score, but how they score them.

'The Welsh coach, Alan Davies, can't really win. If his team fail to score a 100 or more points people are going to say that he has failed, while if they do reach 100 they will say 'so what'.'

The inclusion of the 29-year-old Taylor at blindside flanker will give added punch to the Welsh back row and will allow the selectors to experiment with Emyr Lewis on the open side.

WALES: A Clement (Swansea); I Evans (Llanelli) (capt), M Hall (Cardiff), N Davies (Llanelli), N Walker (Cardiff); N Jenkins (Pontypridd), R Jones (Swansea); R Evans (Llanelli), G Jenkins (Swansea), J Davies (Neath), A Copsey (Llanelli), G Llewellyn (Neath), H Taylor (Cardiff), S Quinnell (Llanelli), E Lewis (Llanelli). Replacements: R Moon (Llanelli), M Rayer (Cardiff), R McBryde (Swansea), H Williams-Jones (Llanelli), M Perego (Llanelli), P Arnold (Swansea).

PORTUGAL: M Vilar-Gomes; P Murinello, R Pereira, N Mourao, T Morais; J Queimado (capt), P Netto Fernandes; S Ferreira, M Batista, P Domingos, A Pecas, A Andrade, P Arsenio, J Pieres, P Eusebio.

Referee: B Leask (Aus).