10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
"There were a few tight calls in there. Obviously number six was a tight call. Simon just missed out to Neil Best in the autumn and the roles are reversed this time around.
"The great thing is that I wouldn't be losing any sleep if Neil had to step in for Simon at any stage. "Simon's a well-established lineout jumper so that was a factor. His recent form (with Llanelli) was a factor and I suppose the fact that we're playing Wales was also a factor.
"He's very highly rated in Wales, captains Llanelli and knows the Welsh boys as well as anybody. So it comes down to minutiae when you're talking about players of that calibre.
ON PICKING GIRVAN DEMPSEY:
"The back three was another tight call and Geordan Murphy wasn't far away - so it was difficult. Girvan has been very, very good. His form over Christmas has been excellent.
But Denis' form has been excellent. It was a tough call on the other wing between Andrew (Trimble) and Geordan.
"Geordan is more of an elusive runner and Andrew is more of a power runner. It was just about getting the back three package together to go after Wales.
"But it's a form selection once again. We're putting our best foot forward here for the Six Nations and I think that I've picked the strongest selection available to me."
ON HIS STARTING AND REPLACEMENT HOOKERS:
"The most difficult call there was who to put on the bench because, in fairness to Rory (Best), he had an outstanding autumn and I think he's retained that good form right through Christmas and into the new year. So, the starting hooker wasn't an issue.
"The bench was more difficult. Jerry Flannery hasn't played a lot of rugby but from what I've seen of him, his form has been excellent and his work-rate has been very high.
"So while there's a little bit of concern about his game-time, from a bench perspective, I think he's fine.
"He played 40 minutes for Shannon last weekend and came through without any problems. It's a tough call on Frankie Sheahan but again I think it's just a case of picking the form guys."
ON MALCOLM O'KELLY'S KNEE INJURY:
"Malcolm was very disappointed to miss out, but he's had a week to recover from this knee injury that he broke down with in the Gloucester match. "We've given it a lot of care, attention and rehab but it's really not right. At the moment it's better than it was, but in terms of going through a week's full training and fronting up in Cardiff, we'd have doubts about whether he'd be able to do that.
"We'll have to reassess him and hopefully he'll be back in the loop next week but with any chronic injury you don't know how it's going to react as the time goes by.
"At the moment, he's not able to work flat out on it and it is an issue. In the long term, we're not too worried but in the short term, it's a problem.
"There is a fair bit of wear and tear (in Malcolm's knee). This week he didn't work a lot so we'll just have to keep him in the rehab situation. It's not something that you can point to and say: 'that's the injury. If we fix that, he'll be fine.'
"It's a wear and tear injury and that's why we're a little bit more worried."