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Gatland rings changes for Cardiff decider

  • Story Highlights
  • Wales coach Warren Gatland rings changes for Six Nations decider in Cardiff
  • Gatland makes eight changes to side that scraped victory over Italy in Rome
  • Wales need to defeat Ireland by 13 points or more to retain Six Nations crown
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(CNN) -- Wales head coach Warren Gatland has made eight changes for Saturday's Six Nations rugby title decider against Ireland at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.

Tom Shanklin scored the decisive late try as Wales scraped a narrow victory over Italy in Rome.

Tom Shanklin scored the decisive late try as Wales scraped a narrow victory over Italy in Rome.

Gatland restores many of his tried and tested warriors -- including prop Gethin Jenkins, lock Ian Gough and flanker Martyn Williams -- after a disjointed victory over Italy in Rome on Saturday.

There is also a start for center Tom Shanklin, who is reunited with his 2005 and 2008 Grand Slam midfield colleague Gavin Henson.

Shanklin scored Wales' winning try eight minutes from time at the Stadio Flaminio and is preferred to Cardiff Blues colleague Jamie Roberts.

Roberts drops to the bench, as does James Hook, who is replaced at fly-half by the more experienced Stephen Jones.

Most of Gatland's attention though has been devoted to the pack, where only lock Alun-Wyn Jones and number eight Andy Powell remain from last weekend's victory.

He has recalled the established front-row of Jenkins, Matthew Rees and Adam Jones, with Gough replacing Luke Charteris, Williams taking over from Dafydd Jones and Ryan Jones in for Jonathan Thomas.

Ryan Jones, last season's Grand Slam captain, reclaims captaincy duties from Alun-Wyn Jones, who led Wales for the first time in their 20-15 victory over Italy.

Six Rome starters are on the bench -- Roberts, Hook, Charteris, Dafydd Jones, hooker Huw Bennett and prop John Yapp.

London Irish scrum-half Warren Fury, meanwhile, will once again provide cover for Mike Phillips, with Gareth Cooper and Martin Roberts both injured.

A win for Wales would see them land the Triple Crown and deny Ireland a first Grand Slam since 1948. But a successful title defense hinges on them winning by 13 points or more, something they have not achieved against Ireland for 26 years.

Gatland told PA Sport: "I don't mind admitting we have left ourselves with a lot to do to win the championship. But, on the other hand, the 13-point deficit is by no means insurmountable.

"There is also a Triple Crown at stake and we know only too well in Wales that Grand Slams don't come cheaply. We've won two Grand Slams in the last decade and so all the pressure will be on Ireland to grab only the second in their history.

"With a healthy head start you have to say Ireland are probably favorites to take the title, but we are confident we can come up with a win. And who knows what will happen if we can get ourselves ahead in the game and that Millennium Stadium factor begins to kick in."

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