Gatland sends Peel home

Wales coach Warren Gatland has released nine of his 29-man RBS Six Nations squad to play for their regions and clubs this weekend, including scrum half Dwayne Peel at the player’s own request.

Peel will undergo a final examination under consultant neurosurgeon John Martin at Morriston Hospital this evening (Wednesday) after leaving the field injured against Italy last week. But, if he is cleared to play, he will turn out for Llanelli Scarlets in their Magners League clash with Ulster Rugby in Belfast on Friday night.

“Dwayne approached us and asked if he could play this weekend, he feels he needs more rugby and we will be more than happy to see him take the field at Ravenhill if the medical opinion approves,” said Gatland.

“It’s another chance for him to show the coaches what he is capable of while Alun-Wyn Jones will also feature for the Ospreys this weekend and is another player hoping to play himself into contention for the trip to Ireland.

“For Alix Popham (Scarlets), Deiniol Jones, Robin Sowden-Taylor, Jamie Roberts (Blues) and Sonny Parker (Ospreys) it’s a case of all those players needing game time as we progress though our campaign.

“Gareth Delve and Gareth Cooper have to be released to England-based Gloucester Rugby and Tom James (Blues) is unavailable due to illness.”

The rest of the squad will continue in full training over the weekend, however, on Sunday they will prove there’s no such thing as a day off in the life of an international rugby player as they embark on the second leg of player involvement in the Welsh Rugby Union and Welsh Assembly Government run outreach programme “Health Challenge Wales.”

Three of Gatland’s stars who will travel the furthest distance are Mike Phillips, Mark Jones and Jonathan Thomas who all visit North Wales to meet and greet players from all levels of the game at six different rugby clubs in the area – Wrexham and Mold (Jones), Ruthin and Colwyn Bay (Thomas) and Pwllheli and Llangefni (Phillips).

The players will show a specially designed DVD which teaches children about the virtues of a healthy life-style and answer questions and sign autographs for their fans and fellow rugby players.

Wales captain Ryan Jones added: “We lead a privileged life in some respects in that we get to do what we love most every weekend and earn a living from it.

“It’s an honour and a privilege to play for Wales, but we have all made sacrifices along the way. I suppose the key message we can offer as international players is that a healthy lifestyle may not always be the easiest option, but we are living proof that it can be the most rewarding – especially when we are winning!”

The itinerary for the rest of the players visiting rugby clubs around Wales this Sunday on behalf of ‘Health Challenge Wales’is as follows:

Huw Bennett (Abergavenny), Ian Gough (Ebbw Vale), Tom Shanklin (Caerphilly), Gethin Jenkins (NHSOB), Rhys Thomas (Croesyceiliog), Martyn Williams (Pentyrch), Alun-Wyn Jones (Gwernyfed), Ian Evans (Abercwmboi), James Hook (Merthyr), Adam Jones (Llantwit Major), Stephen Jones (Crymych), Deiniol Jones (Aberystwyth) and Dwayne Peel (Llandybie).

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