Rugby World Cup 2011: Wales 'must stick with same side'

Rugby World Cup 2011 semi-finals: Wales v France

Venue:
Eden Park, Auckland
Date:
Saturday, 15 October
Kick-off:
0900 BST/ 2100 NZ
Coverage:
Live text commentary, scores and report on BBC website; updates on BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio 5 live; watch live on ITV1, ITV Wales & S4C (Welsh language), live commentary on BBC Radio Cymru (Welsh language) & TalkSport radio

Former Wales scrum-half Robert Jones says coach Warren Gatland should pick the same side for next Saturday's World Cup semi-final against France.

France saw off England 19-12, while Wales beat Ireland 22-10 in a thrilling quarter-final.

Fly-half Rhys Priestland and lock Luke Charteris came off with shoulder problems, but Wales said on Sunday that those injury concerns have eased.

"They deserve a chance again because they performed," Jones told Scrum V.

"They've put the work in, they've got the results.

"Hopefully Rhys Priestland and Luke Charteris will be fit - there's positive signs coming out of the camp - so I'd definitely go with the same side."

Gatland had kept faith with Scarlets youngster Priestland at fly-half and opted for Leigh Halfpenny at full-back against Ireland.

That meant the hugely talented James Hook, fit again after a shoulder injury, was only selected on the bench, while 101-cap Stephen Jones - a British and Irish Lions fly-half - was left out of the match 22.

But Gatland was repaid with a performance of skill, power and discipline as a potent and experienced Ireland side was kept firmly at bay.

Former Wales captain Kingsley Jones added that, "there's no way you can change that team", while ex-centre Tom Shanklin agreed, "you can't drop anyone, they've been playing unbelievably well".

Shanklin believes Wales should beat France to advance to their first World Cup final against either hosts New Zealand or Australia, although he admits a tussle with old enemies England might have suited Wales better.

"I would rather have been playing England if I were them; at least with England you know what you get, it's 10-man rugby and you take them on up front," Shanklin said.

"With France it depends which team turns up. They are world-beaters on their day, as we saw four years ago when they beat New Zealand.

"Again I think it's going to be a battle of the back-row, like the whole tournament has been really... and if we can dominate them there again we'll sail through to a final."

Before the quarter-final, France had had a lacklustre World Cup, losing meekly to New Zealand and also to Tonga in their pool.

There have been rumours of discontent in the France camp between coach Marc Lievremont - who will be replaced by Philippe Saint-Andre after the campaign - and his players.

But Kingsley Jones, who coached Russia during their World Cup debut, believes that the win over England shows the French players might have taken matters into their own hands.

"Lievremont... criticises the players publicly, he's done it now knowing he's leaving the camp, the players know that," Jones said.

"It's a very difficult job coaching anyway, you've got to keep people [happy], pull all the strings.

"They [the France players] have said 'all the best Lievremont, we're doing this together' and they will pull together, and that's my biggest fear.

"New Zealand will not want to play Wales or France, they'll be more worried about those two teams than Australia.

"If they can get to the final, Wales in the mood they're in [have a great chance]. Of course it's a big challenge, we've done it once.

"But if anyone can beat New Zealand it's France. They've beaten them down there time after time, they've had series wins over them in New Zealand.

"Wales have just got to turn up like we did [against Ireland] and we're going to take some beating and maybe they'll be worried about us a little bit as well."

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