Rob Howley full of praise for Andrew Coombs
WALES boss Rob Howley admits that lock Andrew Coombs gave him a real selection headache by starring in the first three rounds of the Six Nations.
The Newport Gwent Dragons second row forward will be on the bench for Saturday’s clash with Scotland after the fit-again Alun Wyn Jones earned a recall.
However, interim head coach Howley has stressed that it is not a decision based on poor performance.
Coombs, 28, has been one of the standout players of the tournament with his appetite for graft, ball carrying and lineout takes.
But seasoned campaigner Jones gets the nod for Murrayfield with the Dragons lock given the task of adding energy from the bench when he wins cap number four.
“I think the attributes of physicality and experience are going to be pretty important on Saturday in the front five,” said Howley.
“But in saying that, Andrew Coombs can be extremely proud of his performances – he has been outstanding.
“I said to him that he could not have done any more and the fact that it has taken an experienced British Lion with 68 caps to replace him shows how well Andrew has done.
“He will have an impact off the bench and once again we feel that we have got a strong set of replacements.
“But Alun Wyn has been an integral part of this squad over the past few years and will use all that experience on Saturday.”
There are two other changes to the starting XV with Sam Warburton getting the nod ahead of Justin Tipuric at openside and Paul James slotting in at loosehead for Gethin Jenkins, who has a calf problem.
“Gethin didn’t make it but what a replacement in Paul,” said Howley. “From a scrummaging perspective we feel there will be an edge there.
“We have got some strength in depth on the loosehead and there have been some close calls over the past few weeks between Paul and Gethin. I am delighted that Paul gets this opportunity.”