Gibbs relishing Twickenham return

Scott Gibbs is relishing being part of “something special” when he runs out at Twickenham next Saturday.

The 37-year-old former Wales and Lions star will captain an International XV in the Help for Heroes challenge match, a game that has already seen more than 40,000 tickets sold.

All money raised from the fixture will go directly to the Help for Heroes fund to support the rehabilitation of wounded service personnel who have served their country in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gibbs’ team-mates include Jonah Lomu, Colin Charvis, Gareth Llewellyn and Kenny Logan, while the Lawrence Dallaglio-led Help for Heroes XV features his fellow England World Cup winners Martin Johnson, Jason Robinson and Will Greenwood.

Gibbs, arguably the most powerful centre in world rugby at his peak, has not played for more than four years.

But he has recently shed five kilos in weight, and his fiercely-competitive nature means an International XV coached by Eddie O’Sullivan and Phil Davies do not intend playing second fiddle.

Gibbs said: “Certainly, I am not getting any younger, and I haven’t played for four and a half years, so it will be something of a baptism of fire.

“But this is something special. It is like gelling together an international team, and there will be a serious intent about it

“We will have enough about us to play football and play a territory game.”

Gibbs’ former Wales and Lions colleague Ieuan Evans, the International XV’s team manager, believes the Twickenham charity showpiece will be an occasion to savour.

Evans said: “We are doing our own little bit, and the Welsh Rugby Union has been enormously supportive. A lot of people have chipped in.

“We’ve already sold 40,000-plus tickets with still a week to go, so it is a major event and we are delighted to be involved.

“We will try and keep things as simple as we possibly can. We have two quality coaches in Eddie O’Sullivan and Phil Davies, who will do their utmost to ensure we get as cohesive a unit out there on Saturday as we can.

“A lot of the guys will have a lot of experience. There will be some current professional players, and also some older heads who have been through it before and got the t-shirt.

“It is an opportunity for the likes of Scott, Jonah, Lawrence and Johnno to get out on that field again.

“These guys have been in that arena so many times in the past, they are comfortable there.

“People like seeing wonderful players back on the big stage - it is a stage they were born for.”

The WRU will extend its support for Help for Heroes by donating bucket collection proceeds from the Wales versus South Africa Test in Cardiff on November 8 to the charity.

WRU group chief executive Roger Lewis added: “The South Africa game takes place on Remembrance weekend, so it seemed a fitting and symbolic gesture to donate the match-day collections to this charity.

“As a nation, we have a powerful history of military involvement, and I think that is reflected in the way players, administrators and coaches have stepped forward to get involved in this.”

Jason Robinson, meanwhile, is the latest addition to Dallaglio’s Help for Heroes XV.

Robinson said: “I got a call from the Help for Heroes XV manager Phil de Glanville on Saturday, and really how could I say no?

“On the same day I heard the sad news about a soldier losing his life who lived near to me, and it has made me even more determined to do all I can to help.”