Coach Warren Gatland challenges Wales players to perform

Coach Warren Gatland has told Wales' players to seize their chance in the opening World Cup warm-up match against England.

Wales have selected a strong side for Saturday's game at Twickenham.

And Gatland has said players have a good chance of cementing their World Cup place if they perform well.

"If I was one of these starting XV I would think I've got a chance at the moment and I've got the first chance," he said.

"And if I go out there and perform and perform well and it's England away from home I've got a good chance of being in that final 30.

"So there's obviously a huge amount of motivation individually and collectively as a team to want to do well in Twickenham.

"Because I'd think the team the following week, playing at home, it's a little bit easier playing in the comfort of home and the home crowd and stuff.

"So if you perform away from home and under a bit of pressure, I mean there's a lot on this team and if they do do well, they've got a good chance of cementing their spot."

Wales suffered heavy defeats against England in warm-up matches prior to the two previous World Cup campaigns.

They lost 43-9 at the Millennium Stadium in 2003 and a weakened side were thumped 62-5 at Twickenham four years ago.

With that in mind Gatland has chosen a strong side for Saturday's game with 11 of the team having started against England in the Six Nations in Cardiff in February.

"We know what happened in 2007, but also that Wales took a hammering at home in 2003, being absolutely mauled to bits by England up front, so let's not forget that.

"We keep that at the back of our minds. We learn from past experiences and we've got to go out there and perform well and give ourselves some confidence

"These two games against England, coming out of that, will give us a lot of confidence of where we are physically.

"I know England will try to come and dominate us physically, and that's a big challenge for us.

"But I would like to think they might get a little bit of a surprise where we are, and how well prepared we are, in the physical stakes at the moment."

One obvious omission from the 22-man squad for the England game is Gavin Henson.

The former Ospreys centre made his first Wales appearance for two years when he faced the Barbarians in June.

Gatland said Henson was no different from any other player who had not been considered for the Twickenham match.

"He's just one of the squad of 40 players," said Gatland. "We don't treat Gavin any more special than anyone else.

"The unfortunate thing is that every time I'm interviewed or go to a press conference there's a Gavin Henson story because it gets hits, sells newspapers.

"He might get a chance next week, maybe the following week.

"But we've picked an established partnership in Jamie Roberts and Jon Davies at the moment and if they do well, it's really going to put pressure on Gavin and Scott Williams if they get a chance over the next few weeks.

"We know we have other players who can cover us in midfield. It's one game at a time and we'll just see how this Saturday goes."


England: D Armitage (London Irish); M Banahan (Bath), M Tuilagi (Leicester), R Flutey (Wasps), M Cueto (Sale); J Wilkinson (Toulon), D Care (Harlequins); A Corbisiero (London Irish), D Hartley (Northampton), M Stevens (Saracens), S Shaw (unattached), T Palmer (Stade Francais), T Croft (Leicester), L Moody (Bath, capt), J Haskell (Black Rams).

Replacements: L Mears (Bath), D Wilson (Bath), M Botha (Saracens), T Wood (Northampton), R Wigglesworth (Saracens), C Hodgson (Saracens), C Sharples (Gloucester).

Wales: Rhys Priestland (Scarlets); George North (Scarlets), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Cardiff Blues), Shane Williams; Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Bayonne); Paul James (Ospreys), Huw Bennett (Ospreys), Craig Mitchell (Exeter), Bradley Davies (Blues), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Danny Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), Toby Faletau (Dragons), Sam Warburton (Blues, capt).

Replacements: Lloyd Burns (Dragons), Ryan Bevington (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Dragons), Ryan Jones (Ospreys), Tavis Knoyle (Scarlets), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Morgan Stoddart (Scarlets).

Wales' preliminary World Cup squad

Forwards: Scott Andrews, Gethin Jenkins (Blues), Lloyd Burns (Dragons), Huw Bennett, Ryan Bevington, Adam Jones, Paul James (Ospreys), Ken Owens, Matthew Rees (Scarlets), Craig Mitchell (Exeter), Bradley Davies, Sam Warburton, Martyn Williams (Blues), Luke Charteris, Danny Lydiate, Toby Faletau (Dragons), Ryan Jones, Alun Wyn Jones, Jonathan Thomas, Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Josh Turnbull, (Scarlets),Gareth Delve (Melbourne Rebels), Andy Powell (Sale Sharks).

Backs: Michael Phillips (Bayonne), Lloyd Williams (Blues), Tavis Knoyle (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Blues), James Hook (Perpignan), Jonathan Davies, Stephen Jones, Rhys Priestland, Scott Williams (Scarlets) Gavin Henson (unattached), Leigh Halfpenny (Blues), Lee Byrne (Clermont Auvergne), Aled Brew (Dragons), Shane Williams (Ospreys), George North, Morgan Stoddart (Scarlets).