Warren Gatland has shocked the entire Welsh rugby establishment with his first team selection today. There will be no less than 13 Ospreys in the Wales team, which start the weekend's big game at HQ. But I can see his logic. The unluckiest player has to be Gethin Jenkins, but Gatland wanted a front row 'unit' who play together every week - so the hairbears it is. Anyway, Jenkins will will be on 10 minutes into the second half. Fantastic impact player. Same logic applies in the centre, where Tom Shanklin looks unlucky to be consigned to the bench. Sonny Parker may help Henson produce his best - which could make the difference against the old enemy. Hook is in, partly because he is potentially our best player, but partly because Gatland has had to bring in Mike Phillips at scrum half. Stephen Jones might have got the nod if Peel had been fit - another half back 'unit'. the rest is not controversial at all. If we can win 40% of the scrum ball, 90% of our line-out ball, and match them on turnovers (please play well Martyn) we'll win. Big if though.
It will be a nostalgic day for me. Last time we went to HQ, 2 years ago, I led out the Welsh Parliamentary team in what turned out to be a bloodbath against the combined might of the Lords and Commons, on the morning before the big match. I still have one of their shirts as a momento, signed by their President, one Gordon Brown. It was probably worth a fortune last autumn, before the Tory Party Conference. Its probably lost more value than a sub prime mortgage book since then. We lost narrowly.
And then in Cardiff, last spring the Assembly team took them apart. My old stringpuller, Phill had gathered up some of the Assembly staff and researchers, supplemented by the silky skills of Dai Lloyd, Alun Cairns and myself. We raised a lot of money for a bowel cancer charity as well. It was perhaps the proudest moment of my life. Anyway, Alun Cairns will be leading out the team on Saturday. He was too late asking me to guest for him - we had arranged for all the issue of my loins, and their closest to come home for the weekend. Best of luck Alun. Wales expects. Don't let us down.