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Premiership Rugby

Hansen rewards NZ performers with starts

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

Hansen has rewarded Wales' outstanding effort against New Zealand by inviting a few of Sunday's top performers to repeat their heroics against England.

Wales fielded a supposedly under-strength team against the All Blacks, but huge games from wing Shane Williams and back-rower Jonathan Thomas have gifted them starting spots for this Sunday's showdown in Brisbane.

Thomas played at blindside against New Zealand, but now comes in No.8 alongside captain Colin Charvis at openside, with Dafydd Jones on the opposite flank.

The back-row re-jig leaves no room for the highly experienced Martyn Williams who takes his place on the bench. Hansen added a cryptic spin to the Cardiff Blues' shock admission by declaring that the team had a "certain plan in mind" and that the flanker understood his role within it.

Shane Williams' elevation leaves no room for Kevin Morgan who finds himself on the bench, and Gareth Thomas remains at fullback after filling that slot against the All Blacks after Garan Evans' early injury.

Elsewhere, former rugby league star Iestyn Harris returns alongside midfield partner Mark Taylor, with Sonny Parker ruled out by a shoulder injury.

Stephen Jones retains the fly-half berth and will partner scrum-half Gareth Cooper, with Dwayne Peel starting on the bench.

Hansen has also chosen to stick with the tight five who unsettled the All Blacks, meaning veteran lock Gareth Llewellyn losses out  to Brent Cockbain and Robert Sidoli.

Of the side that suffered a 43-9 World Cup warm-defeat at England's hands in August, there are 10 survivors, with the exceptions being Shane Williams, Harris, Adam Jones, Brent Cockbain and Jonathan Thomas.

Wales: 15 Gareth Thomas, 14 Mark Jones, 13 Mark Taylor, 12 Iestyn Harris, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Gareth Cooper, 8 Jonathan Thomas, 7 Colin Charvis (capt), 6 Dafydd Jones, 5 Robert Sidoli, 4 Brent Cockbain, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Robin McBryde, 1 Iestyn Thomas.Replacements: 16 Mefin Davies, 17 Gethin Jenkins, 18 Gareth Llewellyn, 19 Martyn Williams, 20 Dwayne Peel, 21 Ceri Sweeney, 22 Kevin Morgan.

Kick-off: 20.00 local time (10.00 GMT), Live in the UK on ITV1


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