Ryan Jones deserves to stay as Wales skipper - Rob Howley
ROB Howley has explained why he resisted the temptation to restore Sam Warburton as Wales captain and return Ryan Jones to the ranks.
The acting head coach yesterday made three changes for the game with Scotland on Saturday, bringing back Warburton at openside flanker and Alun Wyn Jones at lock and drafting in Paul James for the injured Gethin Jenkins.
But Howley declined to go a step further and reinstate Warburton as skipper for the trip to Murrayfield.
Instead, the former Wales scrum-half has left the armband with Jones — because he sees the Osprey as a great leader.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
Asked specifically about the captaincy, Howley said: “I don’t see any reason to change the dynamics.
“Ryan has been a great leader over the past two or three weeks.
“I explained that situation to Sam. Obviously, he is disappointed. But it is about the team dynamics and how Ryan has led.
“Ryan, barring performances, will captain against England as well.”
Howley continued: “We know he can lead, we know he can motivate the team — he has shown that in abundance over the past couple of weeks.
“I think for Ryan, he needs to go out and perform as an international six, which he has done against France and Italy, and I am sure he will do exactly the same against Scotland.”
It is a significant call from Howley, with possible implications for the Lions captaincy, Warburton having been touted for the job before the Six Nations started. It will be the first time in close on two years for the Blues player to start a Test without the armband, ending a run of 20 games.
“I just want Sam to go out and concentrate and focus on his own game,” said Howley.
“He is a world-class seven who has proved that over the past 18 months. He is fantastic in the contact area at the breakdown, and we will certainly need that attribute against Scotland.
“Warby has been a good captain and enjoyed the responsibility, but sometimes you get injured and other players take that opportunity, and that is what happened a couple of weeks ago.
“That is the nature of sport. You move on, you evolve and the team dynamics come first. We just feel this is the right decision for us to be the best that we can be over the next couple of weeks.”
At least Warburton can console himself that he has the No. 7 shirt again, with Tipuric having been relegated to the bench after two consecutive starts.
Despite victories in both those games and fine performances from the back row, Howley has opted to tinker and there will be plenty who feel the decision to be tough on Tipuric, who put in more tackles than anyone against Italy.
Howley admitted it had been the tightest of calls, saying: “We are fortunate to have two world-class sevens.
“We looked at our performance against Italy, and we’ve looked at Scotland and the contact area and breakdown, and we just feel that Warby has a slight edge in that department, with his decision-making skills as well.
“It was not an easy decision to make and we pondered about it.
“I’ve spoken to Justin and Sam, and we feel this is the best back row to go with. Justin has done everything right; it is just that skill-set we might need a little bit more early on against Scotland, up against a very potent back row.
“When you look at Johnnie Beattie, in terms of his carrying, we just feel this is the best back row for Saturday to play against Scotland.”
Alun Wyn Jones comes in for Andrew Coombs.