Wales recall Peel and Jones
New half-back pairing among six changes for visit of Italy
Last Updated: 12/02/08 4:06pm
Peel: back in favour
Wales coach Warren Gatland has handed starts to half-back pair Dwayne Peel and Stephen Jones for the February 23 match against Italy in Cardiff.
"We've made six changes but are in the enviable position of being able to do so without weakening our line-up."
Warren Gatland Quotes of the week
Mike Phillips and James Hook drop down to the bench after starting the 30-15 victory over Scotland last Saturday.
Experienced duo Jones and Peel impressed after coming on as replacements during the final 20 minutes of that match and have been rewarded with promotion to the starting XV.
Gatland has made six changes in total, including an all-new front-row of Gethin Jenkins, Rhys Thomas and hooker Matthew Rees.
The other change is on the wing where Mark Jones - who was dropped following the win over England at Twickenham - is restored in place of Jamie Roberts.
Gatland decided to announce his team 11 days before kick off to allow maximum preparation.
"We've made six changes but are in the enviable position of being able to do so without weakening our line-up," said Gatland.
"Players have put their hands up with performances from the bench and in Stephen, Dwayne, Mark and Gethin we are a bringing a wealth of experience and talent into the side.
"Italy are tough opposition and have been progressing well under a new coach in Nick Mallett.
"They gave England a scare last week and they always rise to the occasion and pick up a result somewhere in the Six Nations and we need to be on our guard."
Half-century for Shanklin
The second and back rows are unchanged after Alun-Wyn Jones failed to overcome the ankle injury that kept him out of the Scotland victory.
In the centres, Tom Shanklin will become the 20th Welsh player to win 50 caps and will continue his midfield partnership with Gavin Henson.
"Gavin and Tom are going well and developing an interesting partnership and both Shane Williams and Lee Byrne can be proud of the contributions they have made to our campaign so far," added Gatland.
"We thought Jamie Roberts had a big, strong and impressive debut in a Wales shirt against Scotland, we have recalled Mark Jones to offer us some extra pace and experience out wide."
After starting their RBS Six Nations campaign with victories over England and Scotland, Wales remain on course for a potential grand slam.
"All talk of triple crowns or even Championships needs to be put on hold, we've won two games in a row and it's our mission now to win three," warned Gatland.
"The Ireland game will be a defining moment for our season, but we need to be travelling to Dublin with a good win against Italy under our belts."
Wales: 15 L Byrne (Ospreys), 14 M Jones (Llanelli Scarlets), 13 T Shanklin (Cardiff Blues), 12 G Henson (Ospreys), 11 S Williams (Ospreys), 10 S Jones (Llanelli Scarlets), 9 D Peel (Llanelli Scarlets); 1 G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), 2 M Rees (Llanelli Scarlets), 3 R Thomas (Newport Gwent Dragons), 4 I Gough (Ospreys), 5 I Evans (Ospreys), 6 J Thomas (Ospreys), 7 M Williams (Cardiff Blues), 8 R Jones (Ospreys, capt)
Replacements: 16 H Bennett (Ospreys), 17 Duncan Jones (Ospreys), 18 Deiniol Jones (Cardiff Blues), 19 G Delve (Gloucester), 20 M Phillips (Ospreys), 21 J Hook (Ospreys), 22 S Parker (Ospreys)