Wales boost physical presence

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The Independent Online
Pontypridd's Dale McIntosh and Mark Rowley will win their first caps when they take their places in the Welsh pack to face the world champions, South Africa, in Cardiff on Sunday.

McIntosh, a New Zealander who played for Scotland A three years ago but has now completed his Welsh qualification period, replaces another Kiwi, Hemi Taylor, at blindside flanker. McIntosh impressed for the Barbarians against Australia last Saturday and his call-up was widely expected.

The elevation of the 6ft 7in Rowley is a surprise as Richmond's Craig Quinnell had been tipped to take over from Derwyn Jones, the out-of-form Cardiff lock. Wales make two other changes from the side beaten 28-19 by Australia a week ago. The record Welsh points scorer Neil Jenkins, who came on for Wayne Proctor during that game, retains the No 15 jersey while the Swansea flanker Colin Charvis makes his first full appearance after going on when Taylor was injured against the Wallabies.

Gareth Thomas has been selected at centre despite suffering a nasty mouth injury while playing for his club Bridgend against Pontypridd at the weekend, and Robert Howley plays at scrum-half after feeling a slight hamstring twinge during the Barbarians' match.

Jonathan Davies retains his place at stand-off, winning his 29th cap, but there is no place for Scott Quinnell, who is still involved in a pay dispute with the Welsh Rugby Union.

Kevin Bowring, the Wales coach, confirmed that his selection of 32-year- old Rowley and McIntosh had been to give Wales a much-needed boost to their physical presence in the back five.

"After the game against Australia it became obvious we needed to adjust the balance among the back five," Bowring said. "We needed players with an additional physical edge able to stamp their authority in the forward exchanges and on the game as a whole - McIntosh, Charvis and Rowley fit into that category."

Bowring confirmed Jenkins would replace Jonathan Davies as goal-kicker, but stressed Jenkins has been told he is still in contention for the No 10 jersey. Richmond's Allan Bateman is the latest former rugby league player to be recalled. He will start on the replacements' bench.

The Welsh Emerging side to face South Africa A at Swansea on Saturday includes Richard Webster, the former Salford rugby league player. Now with Bath, he returns to the Wales fold almost four years after winning his last cap, against France in Paris, and is one of 10 full internationals named.

Webster will be joined in the back row by his club colleague Nathan Thomas, who was watched by the Emerging Wales manager, David Pickering, during Bath's 35-20 Courage League victory over Harlequins at the weekend.

WALES (v South Africa, Cardiff, Sunday): N Jenkins (Pontypridd); I Evans (Llanelli), S Gibbs (Swansea), G Thomas (Bridgend), D James (Bridgend); J Davies (Cardiff), R Howley (Cardiff); C Loader (Swansea), J Humphreys (Cardiff, capt), D Young (Cardiff), G Llewellyn (Harlequins), M Rowley (Pontypridd), D McIntosh (Pontypridd), S Williams (Neath), C Charvis (Swansea). Replacements: A Bateman (Richmond), A Thomas (Swansea), P John (Pontypridd), C Quinnell (Richmond), L Mustoe (Cardiff), G Jenkins (Swansea).

EMERGING WALES XV (v South Africa A, Swansea, Saturday): J Thomas (Cardiff); G Evans (LLanelli), L Davies (Cardiff), J Lewis (Pontypridd), N Walker (Cardiff); L Jarvis (Cardiff), A Moore (Richmond, capt); A Lewis (Cardiff), B Williams (Neath), S John (Llanelli), A Rees (Brive), P Arnold (Swansea), R Webster (Bath), N Thomas (Bath), M Williams (Pontypridd). Replacements: N Boobyer (Llanelli), M Lewis (Bridgend), H Harries (Harlequins), C Wyatt (Llanelli), N Eynon (Pontypridd), R McBryde (Llanelli).

WRU PRESIDENTS UNDER-21 XV (v Natal Under-21, Swansea, Saturday): K Morgan (Pontypridd); R Shorney (UWIC University of Wales Institute, Cardiff) T Davies (Llanelli), J Funnell (Neath), G Wyatt (Pontypridd); S Connor (Newport), D Hawkins (Neath, capt); I Thomas (Pontypool) J Richard (UWIC), C Anthony (Swansea), V Cooper (Llanelli), N Watkinson (Neath), A Davies (UWIC), G Newman (Neath), J Ringer (Cardiff). Replacements: G Downes (Bridgend), D Morris (Neath), L Woodward (Pontypool) G Thomas (Kenfig Hill), S Lee (Tyle), S Gardener (Neath), D Thomas (Swansea).