Speaking at the Guinness PRO14 ticket launch earlier this week former Ospreys and Wales captain Ryan Jones gave his thoughts on Alun Wyn Jones and looked at the career ahead of Aaron Wainwright.
Wales no longer underdogs
Discussing his country’s hopes at the World Cup Ryan Jones said, “It’s a really open World Cup. New Zealand are tournament favourites but they look fallible with Australia beating them.
“Australia look competitive and have a game plan that will allow them to beat the best.
“South Africa all of a sudden have got themselves in order and are looking very South African in their physicality and directness.”
Following the first few weeks of northern hemisphere warm-up games he added, “Ireland will be bitterly disappointed after the loss to England who look competitive.
“I think we’ll [Wales] be everyone’s outsider.
“The team are confident, the boys are fit. The next two friendlies are interesting and you don’t want to lose anyone else and I think we’ll be serious contenders.”
Alun Wyn Jones Wales’ “Greatest ever player”
Speaking about his former regional and international teammates impact on Wales he explained, “He is arguably the greatest Welsh rugby player ever.
“History will tell us when he smashes the cap records and if he lifts a World Cup he’s going to be held in the highest esteem of all.
“He personifies everything that is amazing about being a Welsh rugby player. He’s combative, competitive and passionate and leads by example on and off the field.
“His resilience is incredible. There’s a guy who loves rugby and Welsh rugby is in safe hands when he is captain.”
Jones’ early days at Ospreys
Looking back to when Alun Wyn first came into the Ospreys dressing room Jones fondly remembers that, “He was very single-minded, coming in with his over-sized, white rugby boots.
“The boys took to that and teased him about that but he had an incredible work rate.”
Wainwright set to star for Wales
Despite coming from a footballing background Jones believes that’ll benefit the young Dragons flanker saying;
“He’s an amazing footballer. What’s great about that is he isn’t a product of the system.
“The way he reads the game, his athleticism, he’s a fantastic player and sportsman.
“He’s got the traits of an pro sportsman. I thought he was excellent in the first two warm-up games.
“Unfortunately we’ve seen Taulupe [Faletau] out but that gives him a chance to grasp it. It’ll be interesting to see the back-row balance.
“He’ll be in with a fair shout of starting.”
“Main photo credit”