Sam Warburton left out of Wales team for Samoa clash
Warburton, Wales' World Cup leader in New Zealand last autumn and a Grand Slam-winning Six Nations skipper, is on the bench
Wednesday 14 November 2012
Triple Grand Slam winner Ryan Jones will make Welsh rugby history when he replaces Sam Warburton as captain in Friday night's Millennium Stadium clash against Samoa.
And the Ospreys flanker accepts that Wales must rediscover their winning formula as he prepares for captaincy duty in a team showing eight changes from last weekend's dire loss to Argentina.
Warburton, current favourite to skipper the British and Irish Lions in Australia next summer, has seen 23-year-old Ospreys openside Justin Tipuric handed the Wales number seven shirt.
And Jones takes the leadership reins, put in charge for a 29th time to break the Wales record he previously held jointly with Ieuan Evans.
Warburton, Wales' World Cup leader in New Zealand last autumn and a Grand Slam-winning Six Nations skipper earlier this year, is on the bench alongside four other players - Rhys Priestland, Tavis Knoyle, Gethin Jenkins and Scott Williams - who started against Argentina.
Jones replaces knee ligament victim Josh Turnbull, with lock Bradley Davies taking over from Alun-Wyn Jones (shoulder) and hooker Richard Hibbard in for Matthew Rees (calf muscle).
Elsewhere, there are starts for centre Ashley Beck, fly-half Dan Biggar, scrum-half Mike Phillips and prop Paul James as Wales target a first victory since they beat the Barbarians more than five months ago.
Biggar, who has been in fine form for the Ospreys this season, featured against the Baa-baas, but his previous Wales start before then came in a 16-16 home draw with Fiji during the 2010 autumn campaign.
Midfield powerhouse Jamie Roberts, meanwhile, who was knocked out and concussed during the Pumas clash, makes an immediate return to action after undergoing necessary medical protocols this week.
Wales have traditionally made changes for the Friday night fixture of their autumn programme, and interim head coach Rob Howley was always going to assess an in-form Tipuric at some stage this month.
And with 31-year-old Jones comfortably the leading blindside alternative to long-term injury victim Dan Lydiate, Warburton's omission is perhaps not the surprise it has been highlighted as in some quarters.
Howley said: "With a short six-day turnaround it was important for us to freshen things up and also make use of the competition for places we have within this squad, something which has been a key ingredient for the success of the squad over the last 18 months.
"In making changes, we also needed to bring in some genuine experience.
"It is important to have leaders throughout the team, and we are hoping the likes of Mike Phillips, who made a positive impact last week (off the bench), can bring his experience to the side.
"Ryan reaches an impressive personal milestone. It will be a huge honour for him, but in the context of what happened last week his and the team's priorities are about producing a performance.
"We know we are under pressure to perform, and that pressure is greatest from within.
"This squad has shown in the past that we have the character and resilience to get back to winning ways. We have every confidence that we will come back strongly on Friday night."
Jones, who will win his 68th cap, knows the pressure is on his team to deliver against a Samoan side that ran Wales perilously close in World Cup combat last year.
Wales have won five of the countries' eight previous meetings, but the last two fixtures only went their way by a combined total of 11 points.
"We need to get back into winning ways," Jones said.
"We need to put a few things right tactically and technically, and we need to get a good result under our belt.
"There is a feeling and a real desire to put it right this week, which is what we need.
"They (Samoa) play with their hearts on their sleeves, and it is always a big, big opening 15 to 20 minutes.
"They are a nation that like confrontation, and when you face teams like that, first and foremost you have got to match it. If you don't, then you don't have enough ball or territory that dictates the outcome of a game.
"The bare minimum is to match that physicality and that desire.
"A lot of guys have had an awful lot of success in their international careers so far, from a results points of view, and that becomes the norm for them, so it can be difficult when you have those blips and disappointments.
"But the process is the same. You look at it - win or lose - you analyse it and pick the bones out of it, but you have got to move on."
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