Wales rely on Joneses to quell power of Springboks

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If this is likely to baffle the paying public at the Millennium Stadium, just think how confusing it will be for the Springboks. Wales have named a sextet of Joneses in their starting combination for this weekend's meeting with the Tri-Nations champions, five of them in the pack.

If this is likely to baffle the paying public at the Millennium Stadium, just think how confusing it will be for the Springboks. Wales have named a sextet of Joneses in their starting combination for this weekend's meeting with the Tri-Nations champions, five of them in the pack. Duncan, Steve, Adam, Dafydd, Ryan - the Red Dragonhood may not beat the form team in world rugby in Cardiff on Saturday, but they should at least flummox them with their line-out calls.

The two props from the Neath-Swansea Ospreys, the extravagantly coiffeured Duncan Jones and his equally permed partner Adam, were short-odds favourites to begin this match, and once Mike Ruddock, the national coach, found himself confronted by a minor crisis in the hooking department, Steve Jones of the Newport-Gwent Dragons had every chance of completing the triple whammy. For what it is worth, which may not amount to much given Os du Randt's formidable presence as the sheet anchor of the Springbok scrum, this will be the first all-Jones front row in Welsh international history.

Dafydd Jones, the Llanelli Scarlets flanker, and Stephen Jones, the experienced outside-half who moved from Stradey Park to Clermont Auverge at the end of last season, were also stone-cold certainties to participate in Ruddock's first Test on home soil. The bolter from the distant end of nowhere is Ryan Jones in the middle of the back row. Another Osprey, the 23-year-old No 8 will win his first cap.

"Ryan has impressed with his form at regional level, and he now has an opportunity to establish himself as an international forward," said Ruddock, who has ignored the claims of the Cardiff Blues captain Martyn Williams as part of a wholesale rejection of players from the Cardiff Arms Park club. "The team has been selected on three main criteria. Firstly, we have identified the form players in Welsh rugby. Then, we have tried to achieve a blend of talent that will be effective against South Africa. Finally, we have attempted to create a team and squad that will develop together and figure for us in this season's Six Nations' championship and beyond."

There will be some mild surprise that Rhys Williams, the quicksilver outside back from the Blues, has failed to make the match-day squad; Hal Luscombe, who played under Ruddock when the coach earned his corn with the Dragons, is in on the right wing, with the new captain Gareth Thomas operating at full-back.

But there will be few arguments with the positioning of Gavin Henson, the one-man future of Welsh rugby, at inside centre - a role that guarantees him plenty of character-building attention from the rampant Springbok loose forwards.

"This will be a huge challenge for the Welsh team," Ruddock conceded. "The Springboks' size and the physical nature of their defence and ball-carrying will test us severely. They were far too good for us in Pretoria last summer. We struggled for possession there, and as it is no secret that we play best when we have tempo and width in our game, we must improve in this area to stand any chance."

England have lost two of their Gloucester contingent, the wing James Simpson-Daniel and the lock Alex Brown, to injuryin the build-up to their Test match with Canada at Twickenham on Saturday week.

Scotland have been hit by injury and illness as they prepare for their opening autumn Test against Australia at Murrayfield this weekend. Craig Hamilton and Robbie Kydd have been suffering from a flu-like gastric bug and have left the camp for fear of the illness spreading throughout the squad.

Borders' Simon Danielli underwent keyhole surgery on his right knee last night and will be out for three weeks, and Northampton's Tom Smith, who injured his right knee during the Heineken Cup win against Llanelli at the weekend, is a doubt.

Welsh team

v South Africa, Cardiff, Saturday

G Thomas (Toulouse, capt); H Luscombe (Newport-Gwent Dragons), S Parker (Neath-Swansea Ospreys), G Henson (Neath-Swansea Ospreys), S Williams (Neath-Swansea Ospreys); S Jones (Clermont Auvergne), D Peel (Llanelli Scarlets); D Jones (Neath-Swansea Ospreys), S Jones (Newport-Gwent Dragons), A Jones (Neath-Swansea Ospreys), B Cockbain (Neath-Swansea Ospreys), M Owen (Newport-Gwent Dragons), D Jones (Llanelli Scarlets), C Charvis (Newcastle), R Jones (Neath-Swansea Ospreys).

Replacements: M Davies (Neath-Swansea Ospreys), G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), L Charteris (Newport-Gwent Dragons), M Williams (Cardiff Blues), G Cooper (Newport-Gwent Dragons), C Sweeney (Newport-Gwent Dragons), T Shanklin (Cardiff Blues).

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