Rugby Union: Lewis dropped after 28 caps: Wales prefer Taylor for critical World Cup match with Romania in Bucharest

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TO THE indignity of being sacked by Llanelli, Emyr Lewis can now add being dropped by Wales for the first time in an international career that had reached 28 caps when he was shown the door at Stradey Park last month.

Hemi Taylor, the exiled New Zealander who also plays on the flank for Lewis's new club, Cardiff, was yesterday preferred for the critical World Cup qualifying fixture against Romania in Bucharest on 17 September.

It is a case of Tarw - the Bull - being put out to pasture on the bench after playing in 25 of the 28 Tests since Alan Davies became the Wales coach. 'In terms of rugby hardness we don't feel he matches up to Hemi at the moment,' Davies said.

This was a reference to the fact that Lewis has yet to make his Cardiff debut. Similar activity has proved no bar, however, to the selection at centre of Mike Hall, who broke a wrist and injured an Achilles tendon three months ago and would not have been considered but for unexpectedly becoming due to play for Cardiff at Pontypridd tomorrow.

Wales and Romania are already through to next year's finals and, along with Italy, are playing off to determine where they will go in South Africa. By far the most appealing prospect is to win the play-offs and so take on New Zealand and, more particularly, Ireland. This will not necessarily be straightforward for the Welsh, who lost on their only previous visit to Bucharest, in 1983.

To Wales's intense embarrassment, the Romanians also won in Cardiff in 1988, a distressing memory for Hall, Phil Davies and Richie Collins of this Welsh team. Collins is filling the vacancy left by Mark Perego's disillusionment with rugby.

Collins returned on tour in the summer three years after losing his place and his continued presence at 32 proves that there really is life after another of Wales's recent mortifications, the defeat by Western Samoa in the 1991 World Cup.

WALES (v Romania, Bucharest, 17 September): M Rayer (Cardiff); I Evans (capt), N Davies (Llanelli), M Hall (Cardiff), W Proctor (Llanelli); N Jenkins (Pontypridd), R Moon; R Evans (Llanelli), G Jenkins (Swansea), J Davies (Neath), P Davies (Llanelli), Gareth Llewellyn (Neath), H Taylor (Cardiff), S Quinnell (Llanelli), R Collins (Pontypridd). Replacements: A Clement (Swansea), Paul John (Pontypridd), H Williams-Jones (Llanelli), R McBryde (Swansea), A Copsey (Llanelli), E Lewis (Cardiff).

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