Six Nations 2017: Alun Wyn Jones on taking the Wales captaincy for the Six Nations

Alun Wyn Jones
Alun Wyn Jones succeeded Sam Warburton as captain of Wales on 17 January

Newly appointed Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones says he will be able to rely on a little help from his friends when he leads Wales against Italy in Rome on Sunday.

The Ospreys lock, 31, has seen it all in his 105 caps for his country - two Grand Slams and the dubious honour of being the only member of the current squad to have been on the losing side against the Azzurri.

When it comes to being named captain of his country for the Six Nations tournament, however, he believes it should be straightforward.

"I'm going to sound like a broken record but if I'm playing well then hopefully it's easy to captain a side," said Jones, who succeeds Sam Warburton as skipper.

"With the strong leadership group we have, it is a pretty easy job.

"The only comparison I have to [captaining] over a period of time is with the Ospreys.

"In times of transition it can be difficult when you lose senior players - but I'm fortunate to have a strong senior player base here."

Interim head coach Rob Howley has named a starting XV to face Italy averaging more than 45 caps a man, and including Jones' predecessor Warburton on the blind-side flank.

Why such an experienced side?

Wales training
Wales' Six Nations campaign begins with a trip to Rome to face Italy at 14:00 GMT on Sunday, 5 February

With Wales attempting to adopt a more open, attacking style and seven uncapped players named in the squad for the tournament, many had expected a younger-looking team.

Jones defended the decision to opt for experience over youth against the weakest team - statistically - in the tournament.

"I vowed not to talk too much about selection, but we did say we've been respectful to Italy but also put the pressure on the players who have been selected," said Jones.

"There's been cries for more changes and blooding of youngsters, which will happen in time, I'm sure of it.

"But do we want to expose them to a potential banana skin?

"And then it's a vicious circle and selection becomes more of a talking point than the team. Hopefully we won't get to that."

What about that defeat?

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Remembering Wales' 'whistlegate' defeat

Jones was in the team that lost 23-20 to Italy in 2007 when captain Gareth Thomas opted to kick for touch rather than take a shot at goal to draw the match.

Having told Wales they had time for the line-out, referee Chris White then ruled time was up and Italy celebrated their second win over Wales.

In the same situation today, and with a revised point system for this year's championship, Jones would take the draw.

"These are the decisions that potentially arise for a team and you'd potentially take the two points rather than a loss and get nothing," he said.

"Hopefully we don't get to those circumstances but we've got to be aware of the points system that's in place and the implications it could have later in the tournament."

Play safe, or go for broke?

Six Nations win
England topped the table in the 2016 Six Nations by three points and would have led by eight points if bonus points had been applied last year

With bonus points being introduced to the Six Nations this year, what would Jones do if Wales were leading by a few points having already scored three tries and had a penalty that could potentially make the game safe?

"With this I can wholeheartedly say I'd have to feel it in the game - if I feel we're in the ascendancy, and depending how many players they've got on the park," he said.

"I know what I'd lean to because I know what the fallout would be and you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't."

Would he lean towards being conservative?

"Potentially, because you look how wide open the tournament is. But it's definitely a feel thing. You have to justify the decisions when you make them and hopefully we won't have to make them."

How to handle Sergio Parisse?

Sergio Parisse
Sergio Parisse has won 121 caps for Italy

Italy captain Sergio Parisse was man of the match in their controversial win against Wales in 2007 and is still their key player a decade later.

Jones is full of admiration for the back-row legend, but says Wales cannot concentrate on him alone.

"If you focus on one person or any player too much you can potentially open holes for other members of the opposition," he said.

"We have a defensive system in place that will defend the ball not the player.

"I think the thing now is they've got [coaching team] Mike Catt, Conor O'Shea and Brendan Venter who will potentially make them more dangerous.

"And you throw in the fact they had a good win over South Africa in the autumn, so it's a tricky one to call."

Jones has been there with Ospreys, Wales and Lions and has all the T-shirts.

He might just be the ideal man to guide a team through a Roman field full of banana skins - and he can rely on the fact most of them have done it successfully before.

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