Andrew Coombs keeps his place in an unchanged Wales

Campaign Series: GREAT START TO INTERNATIONAL CAREER: Newport Gwent Dragons lock Andrew Coombs GREAT START TO INTERNATIONAL CAREER: Newport Gwent Dragons lock Andrew Coombs

WALES interim head coach Rob Howley is to reward the players who ended a run of eight straight defeats against France in Paris by naming the same starting XV for the RBS Six Nations fixture against Italy in Rome on Saturday week, meaning there will be no place for regular skipper Sam Warburton.

And Newport Gwent Dragons lock Andrew Coombs will make his third start on the bounce after making his debut against Ireland in the tournament opener.

Cardiff Blues flanker Warburton missed the 16-6 triumph in Paris after suffering a shoulder injury in the previous weekend's defeat at home to Ireland.

Ospreys flanker Ryan Jones took over the captaincy in Paris with Justin Tipuric filling Warburton's number seven spot, and the performances of the duo mean Warburton will not come back into the starting line-up even if he is fully recovered from his 'stinger' injury.

Howley said: "I have told the players the same XV will start in Italy. I think it is pretty important from a coach's perspective that we reward the players who have gone out on the field.

"I thought Ryan Jones was outstanding in terms of his leadership and it is a just reward that he captains the side against Italy.’’ Warburton, who has struggled to recapture the form that made him such a star of the 2011 World Cup and Wales' 2012 Grand Slam success, could yet be named on the bench and he is expected to be available for selection against the Italians.

The idea of Wales fielding a side not including a fit Warburton would have seemed barely credible not so long ago, such has been the excellence with which the 24-year-old led his country.

But Saturday's gutsy effort at the Stade de France made Howley's decision to field the same starting XV, injury permitting, relatively straightforward, despite Warburton making good progress in his recovery.

He said: "Sam is better, he is still feeling the stinger to some extent but I wanted clarity.

"In terms of preparation, the team comes first. What I don't want is to wait on medical opinions, and the way the team went on the weekend they deserve to start again.

"It is a reward for the performance. We have talked about the determination, the attitude and resilience, and that is what you reward a side for when they come up with a win in France, which is not easy to get on any occasion.’’ Howley has also called lock Alun Wyn Jones into his squad.

The 27-year-old returned to action as a substitute for the Ospreys in their RaboDirect PRO12 win at Ulster on Friday, having been sidelined since suffering a shoulder injury in Wales' autumn defeat to Argentina.

Comments (6)

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6:25pm Tue 12 Feb 13

Dai the Milk says...

More changes are needed but Andrew Coombs is definitely not one of them. He is the first Welsh player to play with passion since they won the Grand Slam. Others seem to be catching on, like Ryan Jones and Tipuric but how can you replace Andrew? As I always said, what you see with him is what you get. However, we need a slicker service from the base of rucks and scrum plus a more creative midfield.
More changes are needed but Andrew Coombs is definitely not one of them. He is the first Welsh player to play with passion since they won the Grand Slam. Others seem to be catching on, like Ryan Jones and Tipuric but how can you replace Andrew? As I always said, what you see with him is what you get. However, we need a slicker service from the base of rucks and scrum plus a more creative midfield. Dai the Milk
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6:26pm Tue 12 Feb 13

Euwan Usami says...

Well done Andrew. He must be well chuffed to keep his place with AWJ fit. #LivingTheDream
Well done Andrew. He must be well chuffed to keep his place with AWJ fit. #LivingTheDream Euwan Usami
  • Score: 0

8:45pm Tue 12 Feb 13

CaptainB says...

IT'S GREAT TO SEE SUCH AN HONEST PLAYER BEING REWARDED FOR PLAYING WITH SKILL AND PASSION, AND GIVING 110%!!!

GO ANDREW GO, YOU'VE GOT THE SHIRT, THEY HAVE TO TAKE IT FROM YOU!!!!
IT'S GREAT TO SEE SUCH AN HONEST PLAYER BEING REWARDED FOR PLAYING WITH SKILL AND PASSION, AND GIVING 110%!!! GO ANDREW GO, YOU'VE GOT THE SHIRT, THEY HAVE TO TAKE IT FROM YOU!!!! CaptainB
  • Score: 0

10:29pm Tue 12 Feb 13

copperpot says...

Simon Jones so called Rugby pundit Western mail says that Adam Jones scrummaging problems should see A Coombs replaced by AWJ...Coombs was behind Gethin Jenkins the loose head not the tighthead... Thats the level of knowledge some of these people have... Id say the surface did not render itself to a chase after the hit
Simon Jones so called Rugby pundit Western mail says that Adam Jones scrummaging problems should see A Coombs replaced by AWJ...Coombs was behind Gethin Jenkins the loose head not the tighthead... Thats the level of knowledge some of these people have... Id say the surface did not render itself to a chase after the hit copperpot
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10:59pm Tue 12 Feb 13

foxy3rd says...

Andrew is such a nice genuine down to earth guy it's been great to see him come up through the ranks and do so well.
Andrew is such a nice genuine down to earth guy it's been great to see him come up through the ranks and do so well. foxy3rd
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7:03pm Wed 13 Feb 13

corpardguy says...

Good decision by Howley, however misfiring mid field needs a shake-up.
Roberts and Phillips both lucky to be wearing the shirt again, but maybe after 60 mins we will get some fresh legs on.
Ryan always has been a warrior and great leader, glad to see him back to form.
Wales by 15.
Good decision by Howley, however misfiring mid field needs a shake-up. Roberts and Phillips both lucky to be wearing the shirt again, but maybe after 60 mins we will get some fresh legs on. Ryan always has been a warrior and great leader, glad to see him back to form. Wales by 15. corpardguy
  • Score: 0

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