Wales leave out Martyn Williams for Australia showdown

Wales' most-capped forward of all time - Cardiff Blues flanker Martyn Williams - has failed to win a starting place for the autumn Test series opener against Australia tomorrow.

Williams, who has won 95 caps, has to be content with a place on the bench behind his Blues colleague Sam Warburton.

Warburton has been handed Williams' number seven shirt and packs down in the back row alongside Newport Gwent Dragons prospect Dan Lydiate and No 8 Jonathan Thomas.

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Coach Warren Gatland has, as expected, moved star centre James Hook to full-back instead of the injured Lee Byrne. It was a role Hook filled with great success last autumn.

Blues centre Tom Shanklin wins his 67th cap, partnering Andrew Bishop in midfield, with Dragons wing Will Harries slotting in for Leigh Halfpenny, who is sidelined with ankle ligament trouble.

With last season's Wales captain Ryan Jones out because of a torn calf muscle, Scarlets hooker Matthew Rees skippers his country for the first time.

Wales are seeking only their second Tri Nations scalp from ten attempts since Gatland took charge. That solitary win came against Australia two years ago.

"There was debate in the back row, and we decided we wanted to have another look at Sam, who hasn't played for us since South Africa in the summer," said Gatland.

"We had options on the wing as well, and we thought about Chris Czekaj at full-back, but in the end we have gone for experience there with James Hook."

Australia coach Robbie Deans has named an unchanged matchday 22. Deans had been widely expected to stick with the men who had performed so admirably in last weekend's 26-24 triumph over New Zealand in Hong Kong.

Fourteen members of the starting XV have previous experience of playing at the Millennium Stadium, with Western Force number eight Ben McCalman the only exception.

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Winger James O'Connor, 20, is set to take over the kicking duties this weekend after landing two testing conversions late on to seal that win over the All Blacks, with Matt Giteau's recent struggles with the boot continuing in Hong Kong.

Wales: (v Australia at Millennium Stadium, tomorrow, kick-off 2.30pm): J Hook (Ospreys); W Harries (Newport Gwent Dragons), T Shanklin (Cardiff Blues), A Bishop (Ospreys), S Williams (Ospreys); S Jones (Scarlets), M Phillips (Ospreys); G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), M Rees (Scarlets, capt), A Jones (Ospreys), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), A-W Jones (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues), J Thomas (Ospreys). Substitutes: H Bennett (Ospreys), P James (Ospreys), D Jones (Cardiff Blues), M Williams (Cardiff Blues), R Rees (Cardiff Blues), D Biggar (Ospreys), C Czekaj (Cardiff Blues).

Australia: K Beale; J O'Connor, A Ashley-Cooper, M Giteau, D Mitchell; Q Cooper, W Genia; B Robinson, S Moore, B Alexander, M Chisholm, N Sharpe, R Elsom (capt), D Pococok, B McCalman. Substitutes: S Faingaa, J Slipper, D Mumm, R Brown, L Burgess, B Barnes, L Turner.