World Cup skipper Colin Charvis, currentlyplaying for second division French club Tarbes, retains the captaincy in theWales' Six Nations squad named by coach Steve Hansen on Monday. Wales, hoping to build on encouraging displays in the World Cupagainst New Zealand and England, kick off their Six Nations campaign at home toScotland on February 14. Only two of the squad - Charvis and Leeds back-row forward AlixPopham - are not involved in Wales' new regional set-up. It is Hansen's last season in charge before returning home to NewZealand, where he is expected to become All Blacks supremo Graham Henry'sassistant coach. European quarter-finalists Llanelli provide seven squad members,as do Cardiff Blues, while there are eight Celtic Warriors representativesand five from Neath-Swansea Ospreys. Hal Luscombe and Michael Owen fly theGwent Dragons' flag. Rhys Williams, Garan Evans and Gareth Thomas would appear to bethe full-back options, with Kevin Morgan currently sidelined through anankle injury. "We are happy with the form of all the players, and the morecompetition we
have the better it is," Hansen said. "The process has been made more difficult than normal due tothe number of players who have been in good form throughout the regions. "But rather than seeing this as a negative, we look at thatas a positive." Wales' squad: Backs Garan Evans (Llanelli Scarlets), Rhys Williams (Cardiff Blues),Shane Williams (Neath-Swansea Ospreys), Craig Morgan (Cardiff Blues),Gareth Thomas (Celtic Warriors), Hal Luscombe (Gwent Dragons), Jamie Robinson(Blues), Mark Taylor (Scarlets), Tom Shanklin (Blues), Sonny Parker (Warriors),Iestyn Harris (Blues), Ceri Sweeney (Warriors), Stephen Jones (Scarlets),Dwayne Peel (Scarlets), Gareth Cooper (Warriors) Forwards Iestyn Thomas (Scarlets), Duncan Jones (Ospreys), Adam Jones(Ospreys), G Jenkins (Warriors), Robin McBryde (Scarlets), Gareth Williams(Blues), Mefin Davies (Warriors), Robert Sidoli (Warriors), Brent Cockbain(Warriors), Gareth Llewellyn (Ospreys), Michael Owen (Dragons), Colin Charvis (Tarbes,FRA, capt), Dafydd Jones (Scarlets), Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys), MartynWilliams (Blues), Alix Popham (Leeds)
'It's a quiet presence that takes up a lot of space' - Joe Schmidt spoke today about the impact of losing Paul O'Connell and his inspirational role in the squad. Joe also spoke about the incredible contribution of Jared Payne and Peter O'Mahony.
Robbie Henshaw, who starred in the centre against France, talks about Paul O'Connell's influence on him, calling the Limerick man a 'true inspirational leader' and 'a massive loss' to the Ireland squad following his tournament-ending hamstring injury.
Ireland team manager Michael Kearney issues an update on the injuries suffered by Peter O'Mahony, Paul O'Connell and Jonathan Sexton, while full-back Rob Kearney reflects on the 24-9 pool win over France.
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt reveals the team to play France and talks about the tightest selection calls, while hooker Rory Best says his Ulster colleague Iain Henderson will be ready to make a big impact off the bench.
Five Irish sporting legends - Sonia O'Sullivan, Tony McCoy, Barry McGuigan, Henry Shefflin and Niall Quinn - visited Ireland camp on Wednesday evening for a memorable get-together with the squad. Ireland team manager Michael Kearney fills us in.
Speaking ahead of Ireland's crunch clash with France, scrum half Eoin Reddan said: "Everyone trained very hard today. Obviously we've a huge game at the weekend. We're all in no doubt about how much it means to people back home, and how much it means to us here."
Ireland prop Mike Ross talks about the preparations for Sunday's showdown with France. He also noted there is very little between the two teams at present, mentioning Ireland's 2014 and 2015 wins but also the fact that France have 'a much better World Cup record than we do.'
Looking forward to Ireland's Pool D decider with France next Sunday, hooker Sean Cronin said: "There's a great buzz around the squad. These big games are what you look forward to when it comes to World Cup time."
The gym isn't just about lifting weights, and different players require different loads depending on the training programmes. Strength and conditioning coach John Kiely and Iain Henderson talk us through today's session at Celtic Manor.
Iain Henderson feels this is 'more than likely the best Ireland team ever to compete in a World Cup'. "If we get all our stuff right, our set piece, and get some good counter attack, I don't see any reason why we can't turn the French over," he said, speaking ahead of Sunday's Pool D decider.
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt announces the team to play Italy in the Rugby World Cup on Sunday and gives an update on the fitness of Jared Payne and Rob Kearney. Jonathan Sexton also talks about playing with a new centre pairing.