Rugby Union: Wales opt for mobility over height

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The Independent Online
Kevin Bowring, the Wales coach, has stressed the need for mobility among rugby's big men by dropping Derwyn Jones from the side to face France at Cardiff Arms Park on 25 September.

Jones, Cardiff's giant lock who stands 6ft 10in, has been replaced by Llanelli's Mike Voyle - who is some four inches shorter - as Wales go in search of their third successive home victory over France.

"In the new game, players have to be more mobile and dynamic," Bowring said. "The tall players who have made such a valuable contribution at the line-out in the past now realise they have to make a greater contribution around the field because of the new laws on supporting players at the line-out.

"Derwyn has been working hard to become more involved in the game. Because of his size, it is obvious when he does get more involved, but he is also very visible when he does not."

The 26-year-old Voyle earned his only cap to date when he came on as a replacement against Australia during Wales' tour earlier this summer.

"Mike's enthusiasm, athleticism and overall play is what is needed in the modern game," Bowring said. "He has made a very good start to the new season and his inclusion in the side is down to the form he has shown to date. Gareth Llewellyn will move to the middle of the line-out to accommodate Mike at the front."

Only one other change is made to the side that defeated the Barbarians 31-10 and that sees the Cardiff flanker Hemi Taylor, who withdrew from the match because of injury, earning a recall at the expense of Kingsley Jones of Ebbw Vale, who is named on the bench.

The four former rugby league players named in last week's 35-strong national preparation squad have all failed to win selection, although Bowring said: "There is a general feeling among the rugby league boys that they need more time to re-adjust to the union game before stepping back on to the international stage. It is a measure of their professionalism that they requested not to be thrown in at the deep end."

WALES (v France, Cardiff, 25 September): W Proctor (Llanelli); I Evans (Llanelli), L Davies (Cardiff), N Davies (Llanelli), G Thomas (Bridgend); N Jenkins (Pontypridd), R Howley (Cardiff); C Loader (Swansea), J Humphreys (Cardiff, capt), J Davies (Neath), M Voyle (Llanelli), G Llewellyn (Harlequins), H Taylor (Cardiff), S Williams (Neath), M Williams (Pontypridd). Replacements: S Hill (Cardiff), A Thomas (Swansea), P John (Pontypridd), K Jones (Ebbw Vale), S John (Llanelli), B Williams (Neath).