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Seven Blues In Wales Squad to Face Ireland

1st February 2007

Cardiff Blues have seven players in the Wales squad to face Ireland in the opening match of the RBS Six Nations on Sunday at the Millennium Stadium (15:00GMT).

Wales coach Gareth Jenkins has included Chris Czekaj on the wing, whilst in the front row Gethin Jenkins and Rhys Thomas will be joined by Chris Horsman.

"In the front row I have a great number of options and I think that in the scrum there might be a weakness in the Irish pack, so that is why I've gone with that particular option." said Jenkins

In fact Chris Czekaj, Gethin Jenkins, Rhys Thomas and Martyn Williams are all in the starting XV, with initially Rob Sidoli, Mike Phillips and Jamie Robinson on the bench.

However, following the ERC announcement ruling Gareth Thomas out of action for four weeks - effective immediately - Wales coach Gareth Jenkins has been forced to make a change to the starting line-up with Jamie Robinson in at centre.

Thomas received his suspension from a European Rugby Cup panel in Dublin for engaging in "aggressive entry of the seating areas" and "making offensive hand gestures" after an incident in a match between his side Toulouse and Ulster.

That means that the ex-Wales and Lions captain - taking part in his final Six Nations - will not be available until 1 March and misses games with Ireland, Scotland and France.

"We are obviously all hugely disappointed, but we always had a contingency in place which is robust and we'll now deal with the Irish challenge on that basis," said Wales Coach Gareth Jenkins.

Wales team to face Ireland: K Morgan (Dragons); H Luscombe (Harlequins), J Robinson (Blues), J Hook (Ospreys), C Czekaj (Blues); S Jones (Scarlets, capt), D Peel (Scarlets); G Jenkins (Blues), R Thomas (Blues), C Horsman (Worcester), I Gough (Dragons), A Wyn Jones (Ospreys), A Popham (Scarlets), M Williams (Blues), R Jones (Ospreys).

Replacements: M Rees (Scarlets), Duncan Jones (Ospreys), R Sidoli (Blues), Gavin Thomas (Scarlets), M Phillips (Blues), C Sweeney (Dragons), A Brew (Dragons).

Ireland: G Dempsey, A Trimble, B O'Driscoll, G D'Arcy, D Hickie, R O'Gara, P Stringer, M Horan, R Best, J Hayes, D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell, S Easterby, D Wallace, D Leamy

Replacements: J Flannery, S Best, N Best, M O'Driscoll, I Boss, P Wallace, G Murphy