Rugby World Cup 2011: Fly-half Stephen Jones targets Wales return

Stephen Jones
Wales fly-half Stephen Jones has featured in three previous World Cup squads

Fly-half Stephen Jones accepts he will find it hard to regain his place in Wales' starting line-up for Sunday's World Cup clash against Samoa.

Jones has been troubled by a calf injury and missed Wales' 17-16 opening defeat against South Africa on Sunday.

And although Jones has resumed training, the 33-year-old does not expect an instant return to the side.

"It will be very difficult," said Jones. "It was an outstanding performance on Sunday."

Fellow Scarlet Rhys Priestland started, and impressed, at fly-half against the Boks, but former Wales captain Jonathan Davies wants to see James Hook wearing the number 10 jersey against Samoa.

Warren Gatland's side came close to causing an upset in their opening match of the tournament against the holders in Wellington and the coach has hinted that selection changes will be limited for the next outing.

"We were bitterly disappointed with the fact we didn't get the W [win] which was important," Jones added.

"But the performance from the starting 15 was outstanding.

"We are a fit side. That's evident from our warm-up matches prior to coming out here and obviously the game on Sunday against South Africa.

"It's good, it gives the boys a lot of confidence."

Should Jones feature against Samoa in Hamilton he will become Wales' record cap holder with 101 appearances.

But a return to action, rather than setting a new milestone, is Jones' priority.

"At the moment I'm concentrating on getting back on the training pitch," he said.

"If I am selected in the 22 then I will be delighted and if I'm lucky to get on the pitch then it will be a great achievement. But [it's] a long way off at the moment.

"Obviously I will be proud and delighted if that is the case.

"But what's most important is as a group we can win our next three matches."

Jones has endured a frustrating time of late, having missed Wales' three World Cup warm-up matches in August.

"It's been tough," said Jones, whose last match was against the Barbarians in June. "Obviously to pick up the injury in the first place and then to aggravate it again was disappointing.

"But at least there's light at the end of the tunnel now.

"Basically I'm up to speed now and I'm good to go. I've ticked every box I can."

Samoa began their World Cup campaign against Namibia in Rotoruaexternal-link with a 49-12 win on Wednesday, giving them a quick turnaround before facing Wales four days later at Waikato Stadiumexternal-link.

Wales have twice lost to the Samoans at previous World Cups and Jones said: "We pretty much know how they are going to play

"They will be very physical, that's a given. We have to match that."