Wales hopeful for Byrne


CARDIFF, February 2- Wales remain optimistic that Lee Byrne will be available for Saturday's Six Nations opener against England at Twickenham.

The British and Irish Lions full-back is currently suspended following his illegal, if brief, appearance as a 16th player during the Ospreys’ European Cup win over Leicester last month.

Byrne is appealing against the two-week ban, which rules him out of all rugby, with a hearing in front of an all Scottish panel to take place in Glasgow on Tuesday.

The uncertainty over Byrne’s position led Wales coach Warren Gatland to delay his team announcement, which was due to take place on Sunday.

Wales assistant coach Shaun Edwards said on Monday: "I think we will know by tomorrow (Tuesday) where we are as regards to whether Lee can play or not.

"As regards training, we are training with two teams – one with Lee in it, and other times with him not in it.

"We are sure he will get a fair and proper hearing, and obviously we will go along with whatever adjudication they come out with.

"I think a lot of people are hopeful Lee will play a part in the game."

If Byrne loses his appeal then James Hook, who played at full-back during Wales’s November home programme when Byrne was injured, looks set to continue in the No 15 shirt, even though his favoured position is fly-half and many see his international future as a centre.