Six Nations: Alun Wyn Jones sympathises with Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones (left) has lost his place in the starting line-up because of the return of Alun Wyn Jones
Ryan Jones (left) has lost his place in the starting line-up because of the return of Alun Wyn Jones

Alun Wyn Jones has sympathy for Ospreys team-mate Ryan Jones, who he has ousted from Wales' Triple Crown bid against England at Twickenham on Saturday.

The Lions lock is fit again after three months out with a toe dislocation after just a game and a half for his club.

And he takes over from Ryan Jones, who captained Wales from lock in their last game, the 27-13 win over Scotland.

"I'll take the spot," said Jones. "But, off the back of his performances, they're big boots to fill."

Ryan Jones, who equalled Ieuan Evans' record of 28 games as skipper, played well against Scotland but is not a regular performer at lock, having played most of his rugby for Wales in the back row.

And head coach Warren Gatland said that Alun Wyn Jones was selected on his form in the 2011 Rugby World Cup, when Wales reached the semi-finals and took fourth place.

He returns for his first Wales start start since having an operation on his big toe after dislocating it in training.

Alun Wyn Jones' selection for the crunch clash with England comes off the back of 30 Pro12 minutes against Edinburgh and a full match against Aironi.

"Alun Wyn gave us a selection dilemma," admitted Gatland. "But it has been a great problem to have.

"While Ryan Jones is particularly unlucky to miss out on this occasion, this is just the kind of competition for places we have been striving for.

"Alun Wyn is fit, he is experienced and he had a really good World Cup. For us, having someone of that experience to come back also gives us some size and physicality.

"I don't have any concerns over his experience and his ability, and that is why we have thrown him in there.

"He hasn't turned up in the last few weeks out of shape. He would have worked harder than most players.

"He is diligent in the way he prepares, on and off the field, so even though he has had a lack of game-time I know he will be in good shape physically and mentally."

Jones, who will win his 60th cap against the old enemy, admitted that he was surprised to be straight back in the side only 24 hours after being drafted back into the Wales squad.

"I didn't really have any expectation to start, " he said. "But I was just happy to be in the squad and thought I might feature off the bench. But obviously I feel fit and ready to go.

"It has been quite frustrating, but it is one of those things that happens. You can't do any running or any cardio to a certain extent but those were the cards I was dealt.

"I was there or thereabouts, but nowhere where I wanted to be. I was able to feature against Edinburgh and a full game against Aironi. So I have had a stretch of the legs and a stretch of the lungs."

Many pundits expected Alun Wyn Jones to make an impact from the replacements' bench rather than start at Twickenham, where Wales have never completed any of their previous 19 Triple Crowns.

But Gatland knows that one of England's biggest threats comes through the set-piece and especially the line-out.

And Alun Wyn Jones realises that he and Ian Evans will have to be on the top of their game at the line-out, where England are traditionally strong.

"History tells you they always have a strong line-out and it's something we are looking to attack as I'm sure they will do to us," added Jones.

"With the squad England have got, which has been put together, and an interim coach they have done very well.

"When confidence grows and performance grows - you can accept being a favourite, albeit those tags are tags put on by other people rather from within.

"Ultimately, I'm sure the boys will want to keep going as we have in the first two games."

WALES: Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, George North; Rhys Priestland, Michael Phillips; Gethin Jenkins, Ken Owens, Adam Jones, Alun Wyn Jones, Ian Evans, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton (capt), Toby Faletau.

Replacements: Richard Hibbard, Paul James, Ryan Jones, Justin Tipuric, Lloyd Williams, James Hook, Scott Williams.

Top Stories