Tag Archives: roberts

Northampton approach Scarlets over move for Wales winger George North

Northampton approach Scarlets over move for Wales winger North

PUBLISHED:

20:22 GMT, 19 March 2013

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UPDATED:

20:23 GMT, 19 March 2013

George North's agent has revealed the Scarlets and Northampton are in talks over a possible move for the Wales winger.

The giant three-quarter has one year left on his contract with the west Wales region, and helped Wales retain their RBS 6 Nations crown with a record 30-3 victory over England in Cardiff.

The 20-year-old has previously been linked with a move to France, where several members of the current Wales squad ply their trade, but his agent, Christian Abt confirmed discussions are being held with the Saints.

Targeted: Wales international George North could join the Premiership

Targeted: Wales international George North could join the Premiership

He told the BBC: 'There has been an approach between the two clubs to discuss a possible transfer.'

'I don't think it will drag on too long,' he added.

'I think these things need to happen quite quickly if it's going to happen so that each party knows where they stand.

'It's counter-productive to sort of drag on and for the player as well to know where he will be, so ideally I'm sure it will resolve itself in the next couple of weeks.'

Six Nations winner: North is among Wales' key players

Six Nations winner: North is among Wales' key players

If a move is completed North, widely expected to feature on the British & Irish Lions tour of Australia, would become the latest Wales player to opt to play club rugby outside the principality.

Mike Phillips (Bayonne), James Hook (Perpignan), Luke Charteris (Perpignan), Aled Brew (Biarritz), Lee Byrne (Clermont) and Paul James (Bath) have already moved, while Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate are set to cross the Channel this summer.

The Scarlets said they would not discuss players' contracts publicly when contacted by Press Association Sport, while Northampton also declined to comment on Abt's remarks.

Derby 2 Leicester 1 – Match report: Chris Martin seals crucial victory for County

Derby 2 Leicester 1: Martin seals crucial victory for County to heap more misery on Pearson

PUBLISHED:

19:44 GMT, 16 March 2013

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UPDATED:

19:56 GMT, 16 March 2013

First-half headers from captain Richard Keogh and on-loan striker Chris Martin saw Derby end their Leicester hoodoo with victory at Pride Park.

After five successive npower Championship defeats against the Foxes, Nigel Clough's side broke the sequence with a vital three points to move them clear of the relegation zone.

Substitute Jeff Schlupp pulled a goal back for the visitors just after the hour mark but Leicester could not rescue anything from the game as their winless league run reached five matches.

Rush of blood to the head: Chris Martin celebrates his goal to put County 2-0 up

Rush of blood to the head: Chris Martin celebrates his goal to put County 2-0 up

Frank Fielding returned in goal for Derby in one of four changes made by Rams boss Clough.

Fielding replaced Adam Legzdins to make his first appearance since losing his place through injury at the start of October.

With Gareth Roberts out with a knock
sustained in training this week, on-loan Watford midfielder Craig
Forsyth filled in at left-back.

Leading scorer Jamie Ward, midfielder
Craig Bryson and right-back Kieron Freeman all returned from injury as
Ben Davies and Valentin Gjokaj dropped to the bench.

Leicester manager Nigel Pearson made
one change to his side, recalling fit-again left-back Paul Konchesky in
place of striker Schlupp.

No way through: Lloyd Dyer (centre) finds his path blocked by Derby's Kieron Freeman and Paul Coutts

No way through: Lloyd Dyer (centre) finds his path blocked by Derby's Kieron Freeman and Paul Coutts

Match Facts

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Andy King headed over the crossbar as the Foxes attacked early on but it was Derby who took the lead after 16 minutes.

Leicester captain Wes Morgan conceded a free-kick wide on the left and Keogh glanced home Ward's delivery from six yards out.

A mistake by Jeff Hendrick midway through the first half almost led to an equalising goal.

The midfielder lost possession to
opposite number Richie Wellens on the edge of his own box but Lloyd Dyer
scuffed his volley after being picked out at the far post by David
Nugent, who was denied by Fielding shortly afterwards when he let fly
from long range.

Derby felt they should have had a
penalty in the 40th minute when Wellens tripped Freeman just inside the
area down the right-hand side.

In the air: Derby's Richard Keogh opened the scoring with this bullet header

In the air: Derby's Richard Keogh opened the scoring with this bullet header

The Rams finished the first half on
top and almost extended their lead when Ward escaped down the left
before setting up Martin, but the man on loan from Norwich saw his shot
saved by Kasper Schmeichel.

Martin would not have to wait long
for a goal, however, as he headed home Forsyth's left-wing cross a
minute before the half-time whistle.

Schlupp, who in Konchesky's absence
had been filling in as a makeshift left-back, was introduced at the
start of the second half with Wellens making way.

And the 20-year-old, who recently
spent a month on trial at Manchester United, got Leicester back into the
game after 62 minutes with an arrowing left-footed strike across
Fielding after being teed up by Nugent's lay-off.

Jumping for joy: Jeff Schlupp of Leicester hit a terrfic strike for the Foxes but they still went down 2-1 to their midlands rivals

Jumping for joy: Jeff Schlupp of Leicester hit a terrfic strike for the Foxes but they still went down 2-1 to their midlands rivals

The German-born Ghana international
continued to make a nuisance of himself and almost returned the favour
for Nugent in the 70th minute, but this time Fielding made the save.

At the other end, substitute Davies
worried Schmeichel with a 25-yard shot but his effort was always rising
and narrowly cleared the crossbar. Martin's deflected strike then looped
kindly into the hands of the Dane.

Leicester pushed for an equaliser but
never really tested Fielding as Derby held on for a first Championship
victory in nine outings to climb into the top half of the table.

Leicester had been pushed down to
sixth with Nottingham Forest's win at Hull earlier in the day and
Pearson's team remain in the final play-off spot.

Brian McDermott sacked by Reading – players informed by text message – Roberto Di Matteo emerges as favourite

Reading callously sack McDermott…and send the players a group text message to let them know with Di Matteo emerging as the firm favourite to replace him

By
Sami Mokbel and Sam Cunningham

PUBLISHED:

22:47 GMT, 11 March 2013

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UPDATED:

23:57 GMT, 11 March 2013

Reading's shocked players learned boss Brian McDermott had been sacked yesterday when they all received a round-robin text message from the club.

A core group of senior players were said to be baffled and angered by the treatment of the manager who led them into the Premier League just 10 months ago, as last night former Swindon manager Paolo Di Canio emerged as an early contender to replace McDermott.

Former Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo has emerged as the leading candidate for the vacant position with large stakes placed on the Italian returning to English football at the Madejski Stadium.

*Scroll down to watch highlights of McDermott's final match in charge

Sacked: McDermott guided Reading to the npower Championship title last season

Sacked: McDermott guided Reading to the npower Championship title last season

The bottom six of the Premier League

The bottom six of the Premier League

Striker Jason Roberts said: ‘He’s a
football man and a good man and I just think at this moment in time we
take stock of what he has achieved and place on record our thanks.’

McDermott, 51, had been at the club
for nearly 13 years, first as Under 19 and reserve manager, then chief
scout before taking charge of the first team, and sent texts to friends
saying he was ‘devastated’ by the decision.

The Royals’ billionaire owner,
Russian Anton Zingarevich, took the decision after Saturday’s 2-1 home
defeat by Aston Villa, which left the club off the foot of the table on
goal difference.

Leading contender: Former Swindon manager Paolo Di Canio was spotted at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday and is the bookies favourite for the job

Leading contender: Former Swindon manager Paolo Di Canio was spotted at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday and is the bookies favourite for the job

Ruthless: Zingarevich (left) showed no quarter in sacking McDermott

Ruthless: Zingarevich (left) showed no quarter in sacking McDermott

The sacking was confirmed by a club
statement put out just minutes after the players all received the text —
which also ordered them not to speak to the media and said any comments
on Twitter should be pre-approved by club officials.

That didn’t stop Roberts talking,
while Noel Hunt tweeted: ‘Want to say thanks to Brian for everything he
did for me especially. He’s been a great manager, man and friend to me
and will be missed!’

Famous night: Shane Long scores for Reading against Liverpool at Anfield in 2010

Famous night: Shane Long scores for Reading against Liverpool at Anfield in 2010

Taking the applause: Shane Long salutes the Reading fans after the win

Taking the applause: Shane Long salutes the Reading fans after the win

Di Canio was installed as the
bookies’ favourite for the job after he was spotted at the Madejski
watching Saturday’s game (above) but Di Matteo could be offered the job tomorrow.

Former Russia boss Dick Advocaat,
currently in charge of PSV in Holland, is also believed to be on the
wishlist as Zingarevich aims to name a replacement before Saturday’s
trip to Manchester United.

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London Welsh coach Lyn Jones backs Welsh rugby to rise again

Welsh rugby will rise again! Former Lion Jones lifted by Cuthbert's loyalty

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 25 December 2012

When two blood-and-thunder Welsh derbies take place today in front of big festive crowds in Cardiff and Swansea, it will present a vibrant image to the rugby world. In reality, though, the game in the Principality is on a knife-edge.

There will barely be an empty seat at the Arms Park and the Liberty Stadium as the Blues and Dragons square up first, followed by the Ospreys and Scarlets.

They come on the back of a rare outbreak of positive news, with the Ospreys’ glorious Heineken Cup win over Toulouse preceding an announcement from the Blues that Alex Cuthbert had agreed a new three-year contract.

Trend setter: Alex Cuthbert went against the grain when he committed to Cardiff Blues rather than follow the money in France, where there is no salary cap

Trend setter: Alex Cuthbert went against the grain when he committed to Cardiff Blues rather than follow the money in France, where there is no salary cap

The Grand Slam-winning wing’s
decision to go against the grain by staying at home may be just the
boost that the regions were crying out for.

With Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate
having already agreed to join the exodus to France, Cuthbert’s decision
to turn his back on the riches on offer in the Top 14 was seized upon
as cause for optimism in bleak times.

And Blues chairman Peter Thomas was
upbeat about the chances of three more marquee players signing new
contracts next year — Wales captain Sam Warburton, fullback Leigh
Halfpenny and lock Bradley Davies.

But the bigger picture provides cause
for alarm. While the Scarlets lie second in the RaboDirect Pro12
league, there is every chance that the Heineken Cup quarter-finals will
again go ahead without a Welsh team.

WRU chief executive Roger Lewis
strongly hinted that the four regions may not all survive in their
current form, with at least one in danger of being re-cast as a
development team, with central funding heavily reduced as a result.

Hopeful: Cardiff want to get the likes of Sam Warburton to follow Cuthbert

Hopeful: Cardiff want to get the likes of Sam Warburton to follow Cuthbert

One prominent Welsh rugby figure told
Sportsmail that drastic action was needed and that the future formula
should include two ‘primary’ regions and one development region, with
one removed altogether. There is a growing realisation that something
has to give.

Bigger picture: Lyn Jones is concerned by the lack of depth at most levels in the region

Bigger picture: Lyn Jones is concerned by the lack of depth at most levels in the region

London Welsh head coach, Lyn Jones,
said: ‘Three regions is enough. At this stage, they haven’t said which
region will be downgraded or axed, so we’ll just have to wait and see
what happens.’

In a time of economic struggle and a
3.5million salary cap, Jones believes that finances are a major factor
in the difficulties experienced by the regions, exacerbated by the
growing input of the WRU.

‘The game in Wales needs new
investors to give it a boost, but people won’t get involved if they feel
that their hands are tied. Increased funding from the governing body
has frightened people away.’

However, Jones has no worries about the production of players.

‘Compared to England, far more
players are being produced per capita in Wales. They have to keep
producing young players in order to survive and they have to keep
looking after their treasures.’

Wasps’ former Scarlets, Wales and
Lions fly-half Stephen Jones feels that Cuthbert’s decision to stay with
the Blues may serve as a watershed moment for the regions as a whole,
when it comes to the retention of their stars.

Ready for the fight: Ospreys went into Christmas in good spirits after their hugely impressive win over Toulouse at Liberty Stadium on December 15

Ready for the fight: Ospreys went into Christmas in good spirits after their hugely impressive win over Toulouse at Liberty Stadium on December 15

‘He is the first one to break the
trend and that suggests that the Blues sold a vision to him,’ he said.
‘Let’s hope that now one of the big names has decided to stay in Wales,
more will follow his lead.’

With the prospect of one region being
demoted to development status, the Dragons are surely most vulnerable,
lying 11th of 12 in the Pro12 league and competing in the Amlin
Challenge Cup this season.

Stephen Jones added: ‘It’s tough for
the Dragons, losing someone like Luke Charteris, who was a leader for
them, was a real blow and Dan (Lydiate) now.’

But he believes the other regions
have the ability to keep filling voids left by high-profile departures,
adding: ‘The key is the production line.

'If the regions can keep enough strong
role models in their squads to give guidance and direction to the
youngsters, then you have a healthy system.’

Rhys Priestland out for season with achilles injury

Heartbreak for Priestland as Wales playmaker is ruled out of Six Nations and Lions tour with snapped achilles

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UPDATED:

15:55 GMT, 11 December 2012

Wales and Scarlets fly-half Rhys Priestland has suffered a devastating injury blow that will rule him out for the rest of this season.

Priestland, 25, will miss the entire RBS 6 Nations Championship after snapping his achilles tendon during the Scarlets’ Heineken Cup clash against Exeter three days ago.

Priestland, who has 22 caps, also looks set to miss out on the British and Lions’ tour of Australia next summer in the latest injury setback for Wales as they prepare to launch their Six Nations title defence.

Crocked: Priestland is treated before being stretchered off at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday

Crocked: Priestland is treated before being stretchered off at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday

Crocked: Priestland is treated before being stretchered off at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday

Scarlets head coach Simon Easterby revealed the extent of Priestland’s injury at a press conference on Tuesday morning.

Wales’ recent autumn Test campaign was riddled by injuries as they lost four successive games against Argentina, Samoa, New Zealand and Australia.

And Rob Howley, in interim coaching charge for the Six Nations campaign while Wales head coach Warren Gatland concentrates full-time on heading up Lions tour preparations, has been dealt another major setback with news of Priestland’s injury.

Prop Aaron Jarvis is already out of the Six Nations campaign, while lock Alun-Wyn Jones and flanker Dan Lydiate are set to play only limited parts, at best, while they continue their respective recoveries from shoulder and ankle trouble.

Out of form: Priestland had been struggling as Wales lost seven in a row this year

Out of form: Priestland had been struggling as Wales lost seven in a row this year

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny and centre Jamie Roberts, meanwhile, are battling for full fitness ahead of the tournament, which Wales start against Ireland in Cardiff on February 2, while wing George North (hip injury) has not played since the Samoa game almost four weeks ago.

Priestland was a driving force behind Wales’ outstanding push to reach the World Cup semi-finals in New Zealand last year, form which he carried over into last season’s Six Nations when Wales were crowned Grand Slam champions.

Although the latter half of 2012 has seen him struggle to reproduce that form, he remained a key member of the Wales team, starting three of the autumn games and going on as a substitute against Samoa.

With Priestland sidelined, Howley would appear to face a choice between Perpignan’s James Hook and Ospreys No 10 Dan Biggar for the Six Nations campaign.

Happy memories: Priestland helped Wales to Grand Slam success earlier this year

Happy memories: Priestland helped Wales to Grand Slam success earlier this year

And there was every chance that Priestland would have made the Lions tour, a dream that now appears to have been cruelly shattered.

Priestland’s injury is to his left Achilles, with the Scarlets confirming that he underwent surgery on Tuesday morning.

Easterby said: 'It’s a big blow for Rhys and for our region to lose a player of his quality and influence in our team.

'He was coming through well in the last couple of (Wales) games of the autumn, put in a strong performance against Australia and was making a real impact on our game against Exeter, so it is very difficult for him to take.

The contenders: Either James Hook (left) or Dan Biggar (right) are likely to replace Priestland

The contenders: Either James Hook (left) or Dan Biggar (right) are likely to replace Priestland

The contenders: Either James Hook (left) or Dan Biggar (right) are likely to replace Priestland

'But he will get plenty of support from here throughout the injury period.'

Scarlets medical chief Andy Walker added: 'The surgery was undertaken this morning at the Vale Hospital and has gone very well.

'It’s a difficult injury, but we have been fortunate to have had the injury assessed and repaired surgically so promptly, and by a very experienced ankle and foot specialist.

'Rhys’ surgery was performed by a new keyhole surgery technique which is non-invasive and will aid his recovery and allow him to get into rehab with our medical team at a quicker stage.

'The anticipated time off the field is around six months, but it all depends on the individual and how his rehab goes in the interim.'

Sam Warburton and Wales must be firing from the start to beat Australia

Wounded Wales are on the ropes but they must be firing from the off to beat Wallabies

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UPDATED:

00:04 GMT, 1 December 2012

As the old saying goes: if at first you don't succeed, try having a sixth crack at the Wallabies in a year and see if that helps.

For Wales, the curse of the Grand Slam continues. They have stumbled to six successive defeats since then and this is their last chance of a victory or it will be a bleak midwinter.

They were supposed to be the star candidates for the crucial fourth place in the IRB rankings ahead of Monday's World Cup draw, instead they could slip down to ninth and face New Zealand and England in their World Cup pool if the rugby gods have a sense of humour.

Time to shine: Sam Warburton was in action in Friday's training session

Time to shine: Sam Warburton was in action in Friday's training session

WALES V AUSTRALIA

Wales: Halfpenny; Cuthbert, Davies, Roberts, L Williams; Priestland, Phillips; Jenkins, Rees, Andrews, Reed, Charteris, Shingler, Faletau, Warburton (capt).
Subs: Owens, Bevington, Lee, Jones, Tipuric, Knoyle, Biggar, S Williams.

Australia: Barnes; Cummins, Ashley- Cooper, Tapuai, Mitchell; Beale, Phipps; Robinson, Polota Nau, Alexander, Douglas, Sharpe (capt), Higginbotham, Palu, Pocock.
Subs: Moore, Slipper, Kepu, Dennis, Hooper, McKibbin, Harris, Iaone.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England). Kick-off: 2.30pm, Millennium Stadium.

TV: Live on BBC1 from 2pm.

Their squad have been ravaged by injury and this team are being held together by bandages. Jamie Roberts, who was sorely missed on the three-Test tour Down Under in the summer, will have to wear a protective pad on his hip bone just to take the field.

The bruising was so bad after the All Blacks game he spent most of his week in ice and could start running only on Thursday.

Admittedly, these two Test teams have become tediously familiar foes over the past 13 months, but this match has taken on new significance. Lose and Wales will begin the defence of their Six Nations title without a victory since March.

The chronic Welsh problem of starting slowly and playing a game of desperate catch-up must be remedied with an explosion out of the blocks that puts the Wallabies on the back foot.

Australia are playing their 16th Test in 12 months, while Wales are playing their 24th in 16, so if this was a boxing match it would be two heavyweights with burning lungs and bleeding noses going toe-to-toe in the last round.

Land an early blow and it should make the difference. Wales must also cut out the stupid mistakes. A botched lineout call scuppered their first attack against the All Blacks and, while Wales made six line breaks, they failed to score from a single one.

Walking wounded: Wales have a depleted squad for Australia's visit

Walking wounded: Wales have a depleted squad for Australia's visit

Thinking cap on: Warren Gatland is hoping to record a win to salvage the series

Thinking cap on: Warren Gatland is hoping to record a win to salvage the series

The All Blacks made three line breaks and scored three times. Wales head coach Warren Gatland, taking charge of his final game before committing full-time to the Lions, has spoken all year about the 'learning curve' when you face the Southern Hemisphere sides.

But at some point that curve has to flatten out and Wales have to put those lessons into practice. With such a jam-packed international schedule they have had enough chances.

The summer was a case in point. They left Cardiff hoping to win the series, left Brisbane hoping for a solitary win and left Sydney with heads hanging after a hat-trick of defeats.

Openside flanker David Pocock got the best of Sam Warburton in June, but the Welsh skipper was recharged and back to his charging best against New Zealand.

Return: David Pocock will return to the fray after missing the England victory

Return: David Pocock will return to the fray after missing the England victory

That made a huge difference to his team. The lineout battle between veteran Nathan Sharpe – captain in his 116th and final Test – and lock Luke Charteris will be a defining fight when clean possession off the set piece is key.

Earlier this week, Australia head coach Robbie Deans said 'cornered beasts are the most dangerous'.

He was talking about the Wallabies. It may just turn out he was talking about the wrong team.

Crunch time: Liam Williams in action on Friday

Crunch time: Liam Williams in action on Friday

Wales team to play Australia at Millennium Stadium

Gatland shuffles pack as Wales look to make it lucky No 7 against Wallabies

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UPDATED:

13:20 GMT, 29 November 2012

A wounded Wales team will face Australia with a reshuffled pack for the final clash of their autumn series.

They have made four changes to the side that were beaten convincingly by New Zealand last weekend. But with fourteen first-team players unavailable through either injury or absence, head coach Warren Gatland had his hand tied when it came to make big changes, despite his side falling to their sixth successive defeat against the All Blacks.

George North has failed to shrug off a hip injury picked up in training last week, and Bradley Davies is still suffering from the effects of severe concussion after he was struck off the ball by All Black Andrew Hore in the second minute on Saturday.

Well beaten: Wales have lost six in a row

Well beaten: Wales have lost six in a row

In the front row Blues prop Scott Andrews is handed his second Wales start and he is joined by former Blues colleague and 93-times capped veteran prop Gethin Jenkins, who has been granted permission to play by his French club Toulon.

Elsewhere Ospreys lock Ian Evans completes his return from injury (knee) to replace Bradley Davies and Scarlets flanker Aaron Shingler replaces another Osprey, Ryan Jones, in the back row – with Jones retained on the bench.

The same backline which started against New Zealand last time out is selected, with Ospreys fly-half Dan Biggar coming in for another player returning to his club, Perpignan’s James Hook, in one change to the backs cover provided by the bench.

Starting role: Jenkins (left) has been given permission by Toulon to play

Starting role: Jenkins (left) has been given permission by Toulon to play

Wales team to play Australia on Saturday:

Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts,
Liam Williams; Rhys Priestland, Mike Phillips; Gethin Jenkins, Matthew
Rees, Scott Andrews; Ian Evans, Luke Charteris; Aaron Shingler, Sam
Warburton (captain), Toby Faletau.

REPLACEMENTS: Ken Owens, Ryan Bevington, Samson Lee, Ryan Jones, Justin Tipuric, Tavis Knoyle, Dan Biggar, Scott Williams.

'We need to pick up again where we left off in the second half last week,' said Gatland. 'We managed to retain 73 per cent possession after the break against the All Blacks and win the territory battle, and we need to put Australia under similar pressure from the outset.

'We have played them regularly over the last couple of years and have come close to winning on a number of occasions, but have not quite been able to get ourselves over the chalk of the finish line.

'Both sides have had injuries to cope with, but there is every reason for optimism. The Millennium Stadium crowd will be in full voice again, they were outstanding last week, and we are aiming to reach the end of a tough series on Saturday and finish off on a high.'

Wales team to play New Zealand: Sam Warburton returns

Warburton back in favour as returning Gatland rings the changes for New Zealand clash

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UPDATED:

13:28 GMT, 20 November 2012

Warren Gatland has made five changes to the Wales team for Saturday's Millennium Stadium clash against world champions New Zealand.

Gatland is back in charge after working on preparatory business ahead of leading next summer's British and Irish Lions tour to Australia.

In his absence, Wales lost their opening autumn Tests against Argentina and Samoa, dropping to eighth place in the International Rugby Board world rankings as a result.

Starting role: Warburton (centre) had been dropped for the loss to Samoa

Starting role: Warburton (centre) had been dropped for the loss to Samoa

Switches from the 26-19 Samoa loss last Friday night see starts for centre Jonathan Davies, fly-half Rhys Priestland, hooker Matthew Rees, lock Luke Charteris and skipper Sam Warburton.

Davies has recovered from a groin problem to make his first appearance of the autumn series, replacing Ashley Beck, while Priestland takes over from Dan Biggar, who was not considered because of a shoulder injury.

Former Wales captain Rees, meanwhile, returns to the front-row, where he will pack down alongside Paul James and Aaron Jarvis, with Charteris in for Ian Evans, who has taken only a limited part in training due to knee trouble, and skipper Warburton replacing Justin Tipuric.

Wales have not beaten New Zealand since 1953, losing 24 successive games against them, while defeat this weekend would make it six reversals in a row against all opponents, something they have not experienced since 2002-03.

Wales team to play New Zealand on Saturday:

L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues); A Cuthbert
(Cardiff Blues), J Davies (Scarlets), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), G North
(Scarlets); R Priestland (Scarlets), M Phillips (Bayonne); P James
(Bath), M Rees (Scarlets), A Jarvis (Ospreys), B Davies (Cardiff Blues),
L Charteris (Perpignan), R Jones (Ospreys), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues,
capt), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements: K Owens (Scarlets), G
Jenkins (Toulon), S Andrews (Cardiff Blues), A Shingler (Scarlets), J
Tipuric (Ospreys), T Knoyle (Scarlets), J Hook (Perpignan), S Williams
(Scarlets).

Point to prove: Gatland has not taken charge of a match since this year's Grand Slam win

Point to prove: Gatland has not taken charge of a match since this year's Grand Slam win

'No one is more disappointed than the players and the coaches with how things have gone in the last two weeks,' Gatland said.

'But those supporters who have been with us over the last 18 months know, just as we do, that we are a better side than we have displayed so far, and we will be looking to show that on Saturday.

'This New Zealand team is one of the best rugby sides to have ever played the game, and probably the best All Blacks team ever, so it will be a privilege to be able to test ourselves against them.

'Memories of the Rugby World Cup last year and touring New Zealand the previous summer are still fresh in the mind of many of the players and staff.

Daunting task: The All Blacks head to Cardiff on fine form

Daunting task: The All Blacks head to Cardiff on fine form

'The hospitality shown and the way we were looked after made the experience especially memorable, and that makes it all the more special that we have the opportunity to face the best side in the world at the moment in Cardiff.'

Gatland will retake the hot-seat for two Tests – against New Zealand and Australia on December 1 – before handing back control to interim head coach Rob Howley for Wales' RBS 6 Nations title defence, which starts against Ireland on February 2.

Wales 12 Argentina 26: Halfpenny can"t keep pace as Pumas run riot

Wales 12 Argentina 26: Halfpenny can't keep pace as Pumas run riot

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UPDATED:

17:00 GMT, 10 November 2012

Wales' hopes of securing a top-four seeding in the 2015 World Cup nosedived after Argentina stunned them at the Millennium Stadium.

Eleven years to the day following Argentina's only previous victory over Wales in Cardiff, second-half tries from wings Juan Imhoff and Gonzalo Camacho left the reigning RBS 6 Nations champions reeling.

Turning the screw: Juan Imhoff scores a try for Argentina

Turning the screw: Juan Imhoff scores a try for Argentina

Match facts

WALES:

Penalties: Halfpenny (7, 14, 27, 48)

ARGENTINA:

Tries: Imhoff (54), Camacho (59)

Conversions: Sanchez (54, 59)

Penalties: Contepomi (4)

Drop goals: Sanchez (9. 52)

And to make matters worse, Wales also
suffered a double injury blow when centre Jamie Roberts and lock
Alun-Wyn Jones departed inside the opening 40 minutes.

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny kicked all
Wales' points, but they were outplayed by a Pumas team battle-hardened
from recent home and away appointments with New Zealand, Australia and
South Africa in the southern hemisphere's inaugural Rugby Championship.

Fly-half Nicolas Sanchez weighed in
with two drop-goals, two conversions and a penalty, while veteran centre
Felipe Contepomi kicked a penalty before he was forced off injured
after just 10 minutes. Wales' interim head coach Rob Howley – in charge
while Warren Gatland begins preparations for heading up next summer's
British and Irish Lions tour to Australia – will have been dismayed by
some of his side's lethargy.

It was Wales' fourth defeat on the
bounce, their first at home since last December and a loss that leaves
them with little chance of securing a top four ranking on which top
seeds will based prior to the World Cup draw early next month.

Feeding frenzy: Argentina's Martin Landajo releases the ball

Feeding frenzy: Argentina's Martin Landajo releases the ball

They have Samoa, New Zealand and
Australia still to come over the next three weeks, with Wales having not
beaten the All Blacks since 1953 and suffered seven successive defeats
at the Wallabies' hands.

And Wales' day was summed up three
minutes from time when substitute back-row forward Rob McCusker burst
through – but he blissfully ignored three unmarked team-mates outside
him.

Getting his kicks: Wales' Leigh Halfpenny (left) scores a penalty

Getting his kicks: Wales' Leigh Halfpenny (left) scores a penalty

It was the final misguided act by
Wales, with their players booed off by many in a 51,000-strong crowd.
Wales launched their autumn campaign without injured quartet Jonathan
Davies, Adam Jones, Dan Lydiate and Ryan Jones, but Roberts returned
after knee surgery in a team that also included debutant prop Aaron
Jarvis.

Contepomi and Halfpenny exchanged
penalties during a low-key opening under the stadium's closed roof, but
there was an impressive tempo to Argentina's game that suggested they
meant business. Sanchez put them 6-3 ahead with a drop-goal after 10
minutes, and there was no immediate sign of Wales getting their
much-vaunted wide attacking game into gear.

The Pumas, though, suffered an injury
blow when Contepomi was carried off after being left dazed following a
midfield collision of bodies.

Going south: George North is tackled by Argentina's Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (left)

Going south: George North is tackled by Argentina's Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (left)

He was replaced by Joaquin Tuculet as
Halfpenny landed an equalising penalty. And the game's
fiercely-punishing trend did not end there as Roberts was helped away
midway through the half.

It looked as though he had been
knocked out following a collision with Pumas centre Gonzalo Tiesi, and
it meant an early entry for Perpignan's James Hook, who won his 66th
cap.

Halfpenny then completed his penalty
hat-trick, putting Wales in front for the first time, but it was
largely unconvincing rugby from the home side.

Playing their first Test match since
June, Wales looked rusty, although Hook's arrival injected a midfield
snap as the home side looked to free wings Alex Cuthbert and George
North.

Double trouble: Manuel Carizza (third right) looks to offload under pressure from Tavis Knoyle (right) and Toby Faletau (right)

Double trouble: Manuel Carizza (third right) looks to offload under pressure from Tavis Knoyle (right) and Toby Faletau (right)

But Wales suffered another injury
blow on the stroke of half-time when lock Jones was forced off clutching
his ribs, and Wales shaded a disappointing 40 minutes 9-6 in front.

With Contepomi off, Sanchez assumed
goalkicking duties, but his opening strike bounced back off the post as
Argentina dominated territory early in the second period.

Sanchez then had another opportunity
just two minutes later, albeit from longer range, and this time he
slipped on making contact with the ball and it fell well short of the
target.

Chip 'n' chase: Martin Landajo (left) kicks past Tavis Knoyle (right)

Chip 'n' chase: Martin Landajo (left) kicks past Tavis Knoyle (right)

Argentina, though, had served notice
to Wales they did not intend slipping off the pace, and the home side
needed some inspiration, rather than perspiration.

Halfpenny's fourth successful penalty
inched Wales further in front, but Sanchez dropped his second goal to
make it a three-point game again midway through the third quarter.

Wales could establish nothing in the
way of sustained momentum, and the Pumas showed them exactly what do
with quality possession when Imhoff sprinted over for a well-worked try
that Sanchez converted.

And it got worse for Wales just six
minutes later, with Imhoff's fellow wing Camacho the beneficiary this
time, finishing superbly in the corner despite Halfpenny's tackle.

Sanchez again converted, leaving Wales in grave danger of defeat unless they could stir during the closing quarter.

But when Sanchez slotted a penalty
nine minutes from time there was no way back for Wales, who delivered
comfortably their worst performance since folding to defeat against
France in Paris 20 months ago.

Jamie Roberts to quit Cardiff for Racing Metro

Welsh centre Roberts rejects Cardiff offer to join big-spending Racing Metro

|

UPDATED:

08:29 GMT, 8 November 2012

Wales and Lions centre Jamie Roberts will quit Cardiff Blues at the end of the season and become the latest big name to quit the country for the riches of France.

Cardiff chief executive Richard Holland revealed the Blues had hoped to persuade Roberts to stay with a deal that would have made him one of the best-paid players in the UK but conceded they could not compete with offers from other clubs.

The 25-year-old Roberts will join big-spending French side Racing Metro.

On the move: Jamie Roberts is swapping Cardiff for France

On the move: Jamie Roberts is swapping Cardiff for France

Holland said: 'The offer that we made to Jamie was an extremely attractive one and would have seen him become certainly the highest paid player in the Blues squad, and arguably in the UK.

'As a business we simply don’t have the resource to compete with the offers that Jamie has received.

'Naturally we are disappointed that Jamie has decided to leave the region but we wish him the best of luck with his career.

'Given news of Jamie’s departure, we will begin the search to find a
suitable marquee player who will be eligible to play for us throughout the
entire season.'

Chairman Peter Thomas has called on the WRU to intervene to stop other Welsh players being lured abroad.

'We have invested a lot of time,
money and effort developing Jamie as a rugby player from an early age
and after identifying him as a star of the future,' said Thomas.

Key man: Cardiff Blues were unable to keep hold of Roberts

Key man: Cardiff Blues were unable to keep hold of Roberts

'We have stuck by him through thick
and thin and supported him during last season when he only completed two
matches for the Blues because of his knee injury and international
duties, playing 15 matches for Wales.

'It is impossible for the Welsh regions to compete with the kind of money that is on offer from other clubs in other countries.

'The time has come that the Welsh benefactors should not be responsible for funding the professional game .

'The chairman of the regions can
guide companies, but if we want to keep Jamie Roberts and other
international players in Wales then the governing body has to
intervene.

'The player drain out of Wales, which
has a negative impact on the Welsh regions and the national team , will
only continue without increased funding from the governing body.

'As an example, with our recent game
against Leinster, the IRFU pay for 14 of their players and additionally
fund the province for the remaining players in excess of €4 million.

Money, money, money: French clubs are able to attract the best talent

Money, money, money: French clubs are able to attract the best talent

'Compared to the cost of the Cardiff Blues squad, that’s almost double.

'You’ll never win the Heineken Cup with that margin to compete with.

'The governing body has to take far more responsibility.'

Roberts, who is a product of the Blues Academy, made his senior debut for the region as a winger against the Ospreys in August 2007 and has gone on to make 81 appearances and score 17 tries.

He made his Wales bow, also on the wing, against Scotland at the start of the 2008 Grand Slam season and has since won 44 caps for his country.

The Newport-born back, who is a medical student at Cardiff University and will sit his final exams during next year's RBS 6 Nations tournament, was named as the Lions' Player of the Series on their 2009 tour of South Africa.

Roberts returned to action in September after being sidelined for six months with a knee injury.