Martyn Williams, the 98-cap veteran of the Wales pack whose intelligent back-row performances earned him three Lions tours and established him as one of the most effective flankers in international rugby as well as one of the most popular, was last night dropped from the Red Dragon squad for the Six Nations Championship. The 35-year-old Cardiff Blues forward, who learned last week that he would not be offered a new club contract at the end of the season, has lost out to the fast-emerging Scarlets breakaway Josh Turnbull.
Warren Gatland, the national coach, named a 28-man party featuring another exciting Scarlets talent, the versatile playmaker Rhys Priestland, among the uncapped contingent. In response to the front-row problems caused by injuries to the Lions Test props Gethin Jenkins and Adam Jones, the little-known Ryan Bevington and Scott Andrews feature, as does Craig Mitchell, the man deputising for Jones at Ospreys.
The back-line resources have been bolstered by the returns of two more Ospreys players, Shane Williams and Lee Byrne, along with the Cardiff Blues centre Jamie Roberts, who missed the whole of the autumn series. Matthew Rees, the Scarlets hooker, will lead the side.
Full squad, Digest, page 18