Wales prop Adam Jones eager to face Argentina

Adam Jones fears he could be short of match-sharpness when Wales play South Africa in their World Cup opener in Wellington on 11 September.

Lions prop Jones, 30, missed the two back-to-back games with England, but is expected to face Argentina in Cardiff on Saturday in the final warm-up game.

"I wouldn't have minded playing just to get the game-time," he said.

"If I am lucky enough to get picked for the World Cup I would have liked a few more games, but training's been good."

Jones managed just 53 minutes in Wales' Six Nations campaign last season after a shoulder injury kept him out until the final game of the Championship.

Despite being hampered with a toe injury during the summer training camps, he was deemed fit to face England in the second Test at Cardiff but coach Warren Gatland chose to take another look at Craig Mitchell.

"I was chucked in against France and I wasn't where I should have been fitness-wise having been injured with my elbow," said the 69-capped Jones.

Gethin Jenkins
Gethin Jenkins has not played any competitive rugby since early January

"But I've had a good pre-season and feeling quite good. Touch wood, they'll pick me for Saturday."

Wales were hoping to field their all-Lions front-row at the World Cup in New Zealand, with Jones alongside hooker Matthew Rees and loose-head prop Gethin Jenkins.

Captain Rees has already fallen by the wayside with a neck injury that rules him out of the entire tournament, while doubts remain over Jenkins, who last played in the red shirt in the 25-37 defeat to New Zealand at the end of November.

The loss of Rees leaves Huw Bennett, Richard Hibbard, Lloyd Burns and Ken Owens to battle for the number two shirt.

With 40 caps to his name, Bennett is by far the most experienced of that quartet and the Ospreys man pushed his claims with a strong showing in Saturday's win over England as a replacement for Lloyd Burns, who was making his first start.

"In the last game I was on the bench and when you have that you want to come on and do as much as you can," said Bennett.

"There is one more [warm-up] game to run and it's the same again. Whether I am starting or on the bench I need to come on, look to impress and make an impact in the team."

Saturday's opponents Argentina are renowned scrummagers, but Jones believes the two games against a formidable English front-row has been the perfect preparation.

"It'll be tough, but at the moment you're not going to get that much more difficult than England," said Jones, who played at the 2003 and 2007 World Cup.

"They place a massive emphasis on it - so do Argentina - but knowing [England forwards coach] Graham Rowntree from the Lions, I now they've done a fair bit of scrummaging, where we haven't done as much.

"We've concentrated more on the fitness and other things. It'll be tough on Saturday but we're pretty confident we'll go out there and do a good job."

With Rees certain to miss out and Jenkins struggling for fitness, Jones could be expected to play the leading role in the Wales front-row at the World Cup.

That is a role Jones is happy to accept - a far better proposition, he says, than "people expecting to see a big lump wandering around the field".

"Obviously I've had my downs and I guess I'm starting to come up a bit in people's estimations," he added.

"I suppose being a prop, people say you mature better and touch wood it's going better for me so far. I quite enjoy it, I don't feel too much pressure.

"If I do have a shocker, I just blame the rest of the boys then!"

Wales are expected to name the side to face Argentina at 1230 BST on Tuesday.