Wales have called the veteran lock Gareth Llewellyn in to their squad for their Six Nations match against France in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday.
The Neath captain, Wales' most capped forward with 64, was drafted in last night as cover for Chris Wyatt and Andy Moore. The former has still not recovered from the ankle injury sustained during the defeat against Ireland in Dublin 10 days ago and the latter is still troubled by a neck injury.
Llewellyn last appeared in a Wales jersey against Samoa in the 1999 World Cup, although he led his country to victory over France in 1994 – one of only two home victories they have recorded over the Tricolores since 1982.
Llewellyn's inclusion means the squad has now been extended to 24, but it will be reduced today to the regulation 22, and although Iestyn Harris, the rugby league convert, is certain to make the cut he is expected to find himself dumped on the bench, which has prompted Jonathan Davies, player turned pundit, to warn Wales to handle the Cardiff man with care.
Davies, who switched codes in reverse in his playing career, said last night: "I don't think that Iestyn's confidence can get any lower – his body language speaks of disenchantment. He hasn't played a lot of games since switching to union from league, but you don't want to shatter his confidence."
Wales are not the only country with problems. Simon Taylor, the immensely talented Scotland back row, is still struggling with a calf problem, which has prevented him from taking a full part in training this week and he remains a doubt for the match against Italy in Rome.
The Scotland coach, Ian McGeechan, remains optimistic that Taylor, the Lions No 8, who has won seven caps to date, will recover in time to take his place in the starting line-up and so Scotland travel to the Eternal City with a party of 23, with the Edinburgh prop Craig Smith having been released for A team duty, although the pack for the second-string encounter in Pomezia has still to be finalised. The A team coach, Graham Hogg, has, named the back division, however, and the side will be led by the scrum-half Graeme Burns.
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