AFP

Jones' connection returns

Jones' connection returns
By Reuters

08/03/2006 at 17:05Updated

Wales flyhalf Stephen Jones and wing Mark Jones have recovered from injury and will start against Italy in the Six Nations on Saturday. The only change from the starting side that lost 31-5 to Ireland on Feb. 26 has wing Shane Williams returning from injury to replace Dafydd Jones.

Centre Gavin Henson, below-par when a replacement against Ireland in only his second game back from a seven-week ban for elbowing, again starts on the bench in Cardiff.

"Shane is a specialist left wing and his selection ahead of Dafydd is a case of 'horses for courses' after his return from injury," said caretaker coach Scott Johnson.

Champions Wales have suffered two defeats from their three games in this year's championship and were run ragged by Ireland at Lansdowne Road.

Wales have been in turmoil since the surprise resignation of coach Mike Ruddock last month and the loss of captain and fullback Gareth Thomas with a neck injury.

Johnson has demanded an improvement against Italy.

"We have kept the faith with the majority of the side that underperformed in Dublin and told them to go out there on Saturday and put things right," he said.

"The boys have a second chance to prove what they are capable of and that the last outing was just a blip.

"Italy will be strong, they are the biggest improvers in the championship, but that is exactly the test we need, to get ourselves back on track."

Team: 15-Lee Byrne; 14-Mark Jones, 13-Hal Luscombe, 12-Matthew Watkins, 11-Shane Williams; 10-Stephen Jones, 9-Dwayne Peel; 8-Michael Owen (captain), 7-Martyn Williams, 6-Colin Charvis, 5-Robert Sidoli, 4-Ian Gough, 3-Adam Jones, 2-Rhys Thomas, 1-Duncan Jones

Replacements: Mefin Davies, Gethin Jenkins, Jonathan Thomas, Alix Popham, Mike Phillips, Nicky Robinson, Gavin Henson

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