Wales Delve deep for cover

Gloucester captain returns after two-year absence

Last Updated: 08/03/10 5:44pm

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Delve: Call up

Delve: Call up

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Gloucester captain Gareth Delve has been handed a recall to the Wales squad two years after his last appearance.

The powerful No.8, who has won four caps, has been called up after the Welsh pack lost Alun-Wun Jones through injury and Andy Powell through suspension.

And with Wales skipper Ryan Jones struggling with a calf problem, Delve could now come into the reckoning to face Ireland at Croke Park on Saturday.

"We are expecting Ryan to be fine," said Wales assistant coach Neil Jenkins.

"But we have called on Gareth to boost the squad numbers in the forwards and provide cover in that back row area.

"We have been keeping a close eye on him, no one more so than Shaun Edwards whose Wasps side beat Gloucester at the weekend, and we think he has been playing well and will do a job for us if called upon."

Battle

Defeat for Wales in Dublin could leave them contesting the wooden spoon against Italy later in their final game, although Scotland could also finish bottom.

But Wales won at Croke Park two years ago during their Grand Slam season, and their hopes could be further boosted by the likely involvement of Lions duo Mike Phillips and Matthew Rees.

Scrum-half Phillips, an unused substitute against France, successfully came through his second comeback game for the Ospreys following a serious ankle injury.

Hooker Rees, who has not featured so far in the championship due to injury, appears on course for a recall to Gatland's match-day 22.

Jenkins added: "Mike seems comfortable after playing yesterday for the Ospreys.

"He came through unscathed and he will benefit from that, and Matthew Rees seems fine. Everyone is raring to go."

Wales have carved a reputation for themselves in this season's tournament as notoriously slow starters.

They trailed opening opponents England by 17 points before threatening an ultimately unsuccessful fightback, while they recovered from 24-14 down to beat Scotland in injury time before "winning" the second half against France after being 20-0 behind.

Perspective

But Jenkins insisted: "You have to put our slow starts into perspective. We are a very fit side and very strong in the last 30 minutes.

"France found the tempo and pace quite difficult, even after half an hour. We just made a couple of errors that cost us the game.

"We are not that far away. We talk a lot about starting well and maintaining it throughout the game, but mistakes are costing us and making us chase the game in the last 20 minutes.

"We have played some great rugby and we like to play in a certain style. It is entertaining, but we want to win games as well.

"It's about making the right decisions at the right time. Our kicking game has not been bad and we can manipulate defences - it's about making the right calls at the right time."

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