Williams blow for Wales

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Shane Williams has been ruled out of Wales' Tests against South Africa and New Zealand with a shoulder injury.

The Ospreys winger was not named in Warren Gatland's side to face the Springboks at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday due to the injury, allowing Leigh Halfpenny to reclaim his place in the starting XV.



The absence of Williams, Wales' record try scorer with 51 to his name, is one of three changes from the side which beat Italy at the end of the Six Nations.



The other changes come in the pack, with Cardiff Blues lock Deiniol Jones beating off Alun Wyn Jones to replace the injured Luke Charteris, while Ospreys prop Paul James replaces Gethin Jenkins, who is another injury absentee.



The major surprise comes with the selection of James Hook alongside Jamie Roberts in the centre.

Ospreys star Hook had been due to have a shoulder operation but pleaded with Gatland and his coaching team to be involved in the clash with the world champions before going under the knife, although he will still miss the trip to New Zealand to undergo the required surgery.

"James is desperate to play and it just shows how much it means to him to put that red jersey on," said head coach Gatland.



"We are obviously delighted to have him and would particularly like to thank Scott Johnson and Andrew Hore at the Ospreys who have helped to make it possible.



"You only have to look at the man of the match and player of the year awards James has been picking up to see what a great asset he is to any team and we will be facing the world champions a stronger team because of his involvement.



"We are very much looking forward to the challenge of facing the number one team in the world at the Millennium Stadium in the glorious summer sunshine in front of our home crowd on Saturday afternoon."



Tom Prydie, Wales' youngest cap, retains his place on the wing after making a solid debut against Italy, while there is a place on the bench for Blues back-rower Andy Powell, recalled after pleading guilty to driving a golf buggy while over the drink-drive limit the morning after the dramatic victory over Scotland in February.

There are four Ospreys among the replacements in the form of lock Jones, hooker Huw Bennett, fly-half Dan Biggar and centre Andrew Bishop. Powell and Cardiff colleagues prop John Yapp and scrum-half Richie Rees complete the bench.

Newport Gwent Dragons wing Will Harries, one of the form backs in the Magners League during the latter half of the season, is called into the squad from the standby list as a replacement for Williams.



Wales assistant coach Rob Howley said: "Will has been going extremely well in training and he is a real young talent, one of the uncapped players to be making the trip and he will hopefully learn a lot and continue to put pressure on the rest of the back three."



Flanker Martyn Williams, prop Jenkins, lock Charteris and scrum-half Dwayne Peel had already been confirmed as absentees.



Following Saturday's Cardiff clash, where the hosts will seek just a second-ever win against the Springboks, Wales will depart for New Zealand where they will face the All Blacks in Dunedin on June 19 and in Hamilton seven days later.







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