Same again for Wales as Gatland sends out warning

Seeing as they have been on the bloody end of so many maulings against them in the last half-century, no Wales player can feel entirely safe when the All Blacks are in town, but that has apparently applied doubly so in the last few twitchy days at the Vale of Glamorgan hotel. In selecting the same starting XV which ran South Africa so close 10 days ago, coach Warren Gatland yesterday all but admitted that he seriously considered dropping his captain, Ryan Jones.

"There were some positions we debated heavily – wing, nines and 10s and the loose-forwards," said Gatland before being asked specifically about Jones, the back-rower who has yet to hit his best form this season. " I've spoken to Ryan. In terms of the Canada game last week, we talked about two or three high-balls and just a little bit more accuracy. The message we are sending out is, 'it doesn't matter who you are, you've got to perform'. There is no guaranteed selection."

While Jones's demotion would have been unexpected, that of Shane Williams would have been unthinkable. After breaking his nation's try-scoring record in the Grand Slam season just gone, the wing is hot favourite to pick up the International Rugby Board's best player "gong" on Sunday. Yet Williams was behind the 19-year-old Leigh Halfpenny when it came to the pecking order for Saturday's encounter as Wales try to end a barren run against New Zealand stretching back to 1953.

"Given Leigh's performances in the first two games, he was the pick of the three wings," said Gatland. "It would have been pretty unfair to drop him." In the event, it was Mark Jones who was overlooked. Elsewhere, Gareth Cooper was preferred to Dwayne Peel at scrum-half and James Hook will be given until tomorrow to prove he has sufficiently recovered from a knee injury to take his place on the bench.

Wales: L Byrne (Ospreys); L Halfpenny (Blues), T Shanklin (Blues), J Roberts (Blues), S Williams (Ospreys); S Jones (Scarlets), G Cooper (Gloucester); G Jenkins (Blues), M Rees (Scarlets), A Jones (Ospreys), A Wyn Jones (Ospreys), I Evans (Ospreys), R Jones (Ospreys, capt), M Williams (Blues), A Powell (Blues). Replacements: R Hibbard (Ospreys), J Yapp (Blues), L Charteris (Dragons), Dafydd Jones (Scarlets), D Peel (Sale), J Hook (Ospreys) or D Biggar (Ospreys), A Bishop (Ospreys).

Suggested Topics
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'