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postheadericon Euro audition could land six nations spot, say wales coaches

Euro audition could land Six Nations spot, say Wales coaches

WALES’ Six Nations hopefuls have been told that the Twickenham stage could be the prize for a successful Heineken Cup audition.

With the tournament opener looming on February 6 against England, Wales coach Warren Gatland is set to finalise his Six Nations squad next week.

And Gatland and his lieutenants will make one final inspection in this weekend’s crunch European fixtures.

The star-studded Ospreys face a showdown in France which should see the return from injury of Lions stars Alun Wyn Jones, James Hook and Shane Williams from injury.

The Blues and Scarlets entertain Sale and London Irish respectively, while the Dragons travel to play Glasgow on Friday evening.

And Wales backs coach Rob Howley admitted: “The Heineken Cup is an integral part of our selection process.

“So it is important players perform well in this competition.

“We have spoken about the intensity that this competition brings, which is similar to international rugby.

“So the next couple of games are going to be key in selection for the Six Nations.

“Every player who starts in the Heineken Cup has got a great opportunity to impress the Wales management, particularly after our disappointing display against Australia.

“We are looking at selections and combinations, while we also have players coming back from injuries who have not played a lot of rugby over the Christmas period.”

One player who will come under heavy scrutiny will be scrum-half Dwayne Peel, whose Sale side travel to Wales to face the Blues in Cardiff on Saturday.

Peel is out of contract at the end of the season and has been linked with a return to the Scarlets.

This would fall in line with the Welsh management’s home rule policy which seeks to pick players who ply their trade with one of the four Welsh regions.

Peel has sometimes fallen foul of this stance since he left the Scarlets in 2008, including being unavailable for the game against New Zealand last autumn.

“We would like to see Dwayne back in Wales but that is a decision he has to make,” stressed Howley.

“But his return would be a huge fillip for Welsh rugby.

“We want to see Welsh players playing in our regions and Dwayne is no different to anyone else.

With the participation agreement between the regions and the WRU we would be able to monitor Dwayne’s performances and fitness more closely.”

Peel seems certain to be named as Wales No 9 in the Six Nations with Lions Test star Mike Phillips still out injured.

One name which won’t be in the squad is Gavin Henson, who is still on unpaid leave with the Ospreys.

The region’s managing director Mike Cuddy has revealed the region will be holding talks with Henson about his long-term future in the sport in a few weeks’ time.

And Howley is hoping Henson will return to action.

“We have always said that Gavin Henson is an Ospreys issue,” said Howley.

“But from the perspective of a player, coach or supporter, for Gavin to finish now would be hugely disappointing and a sad day for Welsh rugby.

“He is a hugely talented rugby player who is still very young and can still go on and achieve a lot in his rugby career.

“It would be disappointing for a player to throw everything away and not achieve what he is capable of in rugby.”

For More Information Please Visit:

Six Nations Hospitality England V Wales Hospitality

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