Wales v Samoa: Ryan Jones replaces dropped Sam Warburton as captain
Wales v Samoa: Rob Howley names Ryan Jones as captain for Friday's clash after dropping Sam Warburton to the bench
Rob Howley has confirmed Ryan Jones will captain Wales against Samoa, with Sam Warburton dropping to the bench for the Test at the Millennium Stadium.
Cardiff Blues flanker Warburton skippered the Six Nations champions to a disappointing 26-12 loss to Argentina in their opening autumn international but Jones will lead out Wales for a record 29th time on Friday night.
Howley, who is acting as interim head coach in the absence of Warren Gatland, insisted Wales have enough leaders in their camp to cope without Warburton, with the 42-year-old making eight changes for the Samoa clash.
“With a short six-day turnaround it was important for us to freshen things up and also make use of the competition for places we have within this squad, something which has been a key ingredient for the success of the squad over the last 18 months,” Howley said.
“In making changes we also needed to bring in some genuine experience. It is important to have leaders throughout the team and we are hoping the likes of Mike Phillips, who made a positive impact last week, can bring his experience to the side.
“Ryan reaches an impressive personal milestone, it will be a huge honour for him but in the context of what happened last week his and the team’s priorities are about producing a performance.”
Howley also backed Wales to respond to the shock loss against the Pumas, with Wales fighting to be top seeds for the 2015 World Cup draw next month.
“We know we are under pressure to perform and that pressure is greatest from within,” added Howley.
“This squad has shown in the past that we have the character and resilience to get back to winning ways. We have every confidence that we will come back strongly on Friday night.”
Wales: Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, Ashley Beck, Jamie Roberts, George North; Dan Biggar, Mike Phillips; Paul James, Richard Hibbard, Aaron Jarvis, Bradley Davies, Ian Evans, Ryan Jones (Capt), Justin Tipuric, Toby Faletau
Replacements: Ken Owens, Gethin Jenkins, Scott Andrews, Luke Charteris, Sam Warburton, Tavis Knoyle, Rhys Priestland, Scott Williams