2:12pm Tuesday 4th February 2014
FORMER Pembrokeshire rugby players did Wales proud as they tackled Italy in the first round of the Six Nations at the weekend, writes Gordon Thomas.
First up was the Wales Under-20s who defeated Italy Under-20s 26-9 at the Eirias Stadium, Colwyn Bay, north Wales where two former players from the county made an impression.
Will Boyde, formally of Narberth, now with Carmarthen Quins played well at flanker and another former Narberth product Connor Lloyd (Scarlets) replaced scrum half Tom Williams in the second half, and both are likely to feature in the game against Ireland Under-20, which takes place at Athlone this Friday evening.
Second up were Mike Phillips and Scott Williams, the former Whitland pair started in Wales’ back line in a 23-15 victory over Italy.
Phillips will definitely start this week’s mouth-watering clash in Ireland, the British Lions scrum-half is a big match player and this is one who won’t need any motivation for this clash.
The debate is whether Williams will keep his starting line-up spot as another former Whitland man Jonathan Davies has made a speedy return after tearing his pectoral muscle in November against South Africa.
Davies played 40 minutes for the Scarlets who bowed out of the LV Cup after losing 29-10 against London Irish at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Former Wales captain Gareth Thomas says that Gatland should bring back Davies to start instead of Williams against Ireland.
"I would put him back in... even though Scott Williams gives us a different aspect; I think we're comfortable with our centre pairing."
Although it was hard to fault Williams' display against the Azzurri in Cardiff, Thomas - who won 100 caps for Wales at centre, wing and full-back - feels Davies should be reunited with British and Irish Lions centre partner Roberts.
"It's a pairing that is tried and trusted, and going to somewhere like Ireland you need tried and trusted."
But former Wales’s flanker Martyn Williams, who like Thomas won a century of caps for his country, believes coach Warren Gatland will keep faith with the midfield that started against Italy.
"I think he'll stick with the pairing, but it's a tough call," Williams said.
"It's a great position to be in to have three world-class centres, but I think with the intensity of the game next week it's difficult to find your match fitness there so I think he'll stick with the boys from Saturday."
Thirdly, Catrin Edwards caught the eye for Wales’ women who narrow lost 11-12 against their counterparts from Italy, formally from Crymych, now playing with Bristol Ladies, she was honoured with the captaincy at the Talbot Athletic Ground, Aberavon on Sunday.
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