By Andrew Collins
February 5 2009
Cardiff Blues stars, Andy Powell, Leigh Halfpenny and Jamie Roberts have all been selected for Warren Gatland’s Welsh squad to face Scotland at Murrayfield on Sunday. The trio are joined in the starting line up by Martyn Williams and Gethin Jenkins, while Shanklin and Yapp are on the bench.
Season-long-superstars, Leigh Halfpenny and Andy Powell have broken into the starting Welsh XV ahead of the 2009 6 Nations opener against Scotland. The pair have been in exceptional form for the Blues, but with International Captain Ryan Jones ahead of him in the Number 8 position, Powell has done remarkably well to dislodge the Osprey to his lesser-favoured position, flanker.
Halfpenny has also done well, although his call up was put beyond doubt when Scarlets wing Mark Jones was ruled out. The pair, who've both signed new deals with the Blues in recent weeks, are joined by Jamie Roberts, whose last Welsh outing ended with a fractured skull. Roberts partners Gavin Henson in an abrasive and physical midfield, however it is at the expense of team-mate Tom Shanklin. He told WalesOnline,
"I'm massively excited about playing alongside Gavin. He is a great player and hopefully we can combine well. He kicks well, defends well, runs strongly and he is a great passer of the ball. Hopefully, if I can be on the end of those well-timed passes, I can cut through defences. There is a lot of talent in the Welsh backline. And, if the forwards can front-up, hopefully we will cut Scotland to shreds."
"Tom will probably be very disappointed because he has been playing fantastically well for the Blues. But that shows the strength in depth we have got and I know I'm only one game away from being dropped."
Martyn Williams is ever-present upfront for Wales, despite retiring from International Rugby 2 years ago, ‘Nugget' is yet to be replaced. Gethin Jenkins has become just as important to the Welsh side, with Jenkins' name perhaps second on the team sheet to the flanker.
Shanklin is relegated to the bench but is joined by John Yapp from the region.
The Welsh team to play Scotland on Sunday;
Lee Byrne (Ospreys); Leigh Halfpenny (Blues), Jamie Roberts (Blues), Gavin Henson (Ospreys), Shane Williams (Ospreys); Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Ospreys); Gethin Jenkins (Blues), Matthew Rees (Scarlets), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Ian Gough (Ospreys), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Ryan Jones (Ospreys, capt), Martyn Williams (Blues), Andy Powell (Blues).
Tom Shanklin (Blues), James Hook (Ospreys), Dwayne Peel (Sale), John Yapp (Blues), Huw Bennett (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Dragons), Dafydd Jones (Scarlets).