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Rugby Union: Roberts targets making the final cut for Twickenham.

Byline: By Gareth Griffiths South Wales Echo

Cardiff Blues back Jamie Roberts has set his sights on his first cap after being named in Wales' 28-man squad for the Six Nations. The 21-year-old wing/full-back has been included by Warren Gatland and hopes to be involved in the final 22-man squad for the opening clash against England at Twickenham on February 2.

"I'm over the moon just to be in the squad," said Roberts.

"Obviously there's a long way to go to get into the 22 and then into the starting 15 but I'm delighted.

"I'm really pleased with the way things have gone with the Blues this season.

"Playing alongside quality players such as Ben Blair, Tom Shanklin and Gareth Thomas has given me a real boost."

Despite playing most of his rugby for the Blues on the wing this season due to the presence of New Zealander Blair, Roberts is set to go head-to-head with Ospreys full-back Lee Byrne for the number 15 jersey after Llanelli Scarlets' Morgan Stoddart and Kevin Morgan, of the Newport Gwent Dragons, were left out of the squad.

Roberts' regional team-mate Tom James has been included despite a recent kidney illness and will battle it out for the wing positions with the established Shane Williams and Mark Jones.

Gavin Henson looks set to resume in the inside-centre position he occupied against South Africa with Tom Shanklin and Sonny Parker also vying for a midfield spot.

Ospreys outside-half James Hook's clinical goalkicking display against Gloucester on Saturday evening could give him the nod ahead of Stephen Jones, who is carrying a hand injury, while Mike Phillips stands by if Dwayne Peel does not recover from a niggling shoulder problem.

Gethin Jenkins, captain against South Africa, and Duncan Jones will resume a familiar rivalry for the loose-head position, with the credentials of John Yapp and Iestyn Thomas overlooked, while the tight-head spot with be a straight shoot-out between Adam Jones and Rhys Thomas, the only Dragons player in the squad.

Alun Wyn Jones and Ian Gough are in pole position to fill the second-row positions ahead of their Ospreys colleague Ian Evans, while Gloucester No.8 Gareth Delve celebrates a return to the squad following injury.

With Dragons duo Colin Charvis and Michael Owen overlooked, Delve is one of six back-row forwards named alongside new captain Ryan Jones, Ospreys colleague Jonathan Thomas, Scarlets No.8 Alix Popham and Blues duo Robin Sowden-Taylor and the recalled Martyn Williams.

With Jones and Williams set to fill two of the back-row spots, Gatland will probably choose between the power of Delve or the technical ability of Thomas to fill the remaining position.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 15, 2008
Words:444
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