The absence of Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins has been causing Welsh rugby fans some concern, but Paul James has relished the opportunity to step into the side at tighthead prop
We spoke to Paul this week ahead of the crucial RBS 6 Nations clash with Ireland this weekend, asking about Wales’ preparations.
Having ended their dreadful run of defeats with a victory over Scotland, they followed that with a tough win at the Stadio Flaminio and the spirit in the camp has improved.
“Training has been going great.” he said. “Obviously we’ve had two wins on the road and our confidence is building again. The pressure is still on us, but hopefully the momentum will see us through again at the weekend.”
He then echoed the sentiment of every Welsh fan, adding, “We’ve had two wins away, so It would be nice if we can go out and perform in front of a packed Millennium Stadium.”
The Irish and Welsh front fives were identified before the tournament as two of the weaker packs, so there is anticipation about which side will gain the upper hand on Saturday.
“The forwards have been working hard in training, and we know it’s going to be tough. They are very experienced, but if we can get the edge up front, it will help our backs get on the front foot.”
And as for whether he can keep Jenkins out of the side, Paul was confident. “You have to take your opportunities when they come around, and I’ve had a good run of games and the coaches seem to be happy.”
I mentioned that Warren Gatland had said at the RBS launch that he was a better scrummager than Adam Jones, and he agreed. “Much better, much better!”
Paul had been at Skewen RFC where he started playing the game at 6 years old. “I played all my junior rugby here, and it was at the heart of the community. Everyone used to come down the club and I spent a lot of time here.”
“The RBS RugbyForce programme is a great way of building that community spirit at grassroots clubs, and I wouldn’t have got where I am today without Skewen RFC.”
Paul James returned to Skewen RFC as part of at an Welsh team appearance to support community rugby programme RBS RugbyForce, improving club facilities across the nation. To register your rugby club for the RBS RugbyForce Weekend on 11 & 12 June, visit www.rbs.co.uk/rugbyforce.