Lyn Jones: Wales need Lee Byrne back for Six Nations clash against France
ROB Howley has been told he should give Wales more of a French flavour for their trip to Paris — and recall Clermont Auvergne-based Lee Byrne.
The message comes from Byrne’s former Ospreys coach Lyn Jones.
With territory the must-have rugby item of the season, Jones believes Wales should bolster their battery of kickers and their attacking game by recalling 2009 Lions Test man Byrne, and switch Leigh Halfpenny to the wing.
Jones said: “Rob Howley’s got some tough calls and he might choose to go with the same team, give them confidence and the chance to hit back.
“Leigh Halfpenny’s got to play because of his goalkicking, but I would certainly find a place for Lee Byrne. He is more of an attacking threat out wide and an experienced campaigner who hits nice angles from full-back, so that’s one change I would certainly make.”
Wales will be facing dangerous opponents on Saturday as France will be desperate to atone for their shock defeat by Italy last weekend.
Jones insists the first priority for Howley’s side will be to come up with a performance to compete with the French.
And he warns if they fail on that score the visitors could find themselves handed a Six Nations hammering, with all the repercussions to follow.
“France will obviously be hurting from their defeat in Italy but I actually think it’s the type of performance that matters for Wales,” added Jones. “Despite the bad run it’s not so much the loss or victory on Saturday for me, because if things don’t go according to plan this time it could be a rout — and then panic buttons will definitely get hit.
“There was a lot of good in the second half of Wales’s game against Ireland and they need to build on that.”
Wales announce their side tomorrow, with Ryan Jones, Richard Hibbard and Aaron Shingler all set to be available for selection.
Meantime, senior stars such as Sam Warburton and Gethin Jenkins will await the team announcement for Paris as players under pressure, according to attack coach Mark Jones.
“Yes, they’re under pressure,” said Jones. “You are playing international rugby and I’ve been there myself. When you don’t play as well as you can play, you come under pressure because there’s good individuals underneath you Pressure is part of this sport, part of your job.”