Our resident Welshman Paul French spoke to Ryan Jones this week about his 50th cap, current form, the Irish challenge and Sean O’Brien.
Every Welshman dreams of earning even one cap for their country, how special will it be earning your fiftieth one on Saturday?
It’s a huge honour for any player, one they will treasure forever and be able to look back on such an accolade, whatever country they represent.
In what ways has the game changed since you made your debut back in 2004?
The change has been tenfold – it is certainly a lot faster and more physical, with defence playing a massive role. It’s almost unrecognisable from seven years ago, evolving into a fantastic spectator sport.
Against Italy your work rate was exceptional. How do you rate your current form at the moment?
It’s not really for me to be the judge. It’s just about enjoying my rugby and giving 100% in every game.
After the Fiji game in the autumn, you said that you had the worst twenty minutes of your career. Is that motivating you at the moment?
What’s been has been. You’ve got to move on; it was just one of those things. Rugby careers are full of plenty of highs and lows, and that’s what makes occasions like on Saturday even more special.
Where do you feel the team need to improve if they’re going to claim a first Six Nations win over a team other than Italy or Scotland, in over two years?
We need to be error free, disciplined and accurate. The set piece is always an area that we need to dominate. Being able to implement our game plan is crucial.
For The Ospreys you’ve featured on several occasions in the second row. Now back at number eight, does the utility tag sit comfortably with you?
Going back to your earlier question on how the game has evolved, being a forward has changed. It is almost as if you have a front-row and a back five. You need to be a mobile athlete, who can play all over the park; something my coach at The Ospreys Scott Johnson has embraced.
How do you rate the Irish back-row? Sean O’Brien has been particularly impressive since coming into the test scene.
I agree Sean O’Brien has been superb. I’ve encountered them quite a lot in the Magners League and Heineken Cup and they’re a highly influential trio. I’m expecting a tough day at the office.
Finally, moving back to Wales, is winning the Championship still a realistic aim?
The format of the competition means there is still everything to play for. However we will only be concentrating on Saturday, importantly a home game. We believe we are capable of winning, and then we will worry about the permutations after.
Ryan Jones was speaking on behalf of GUINNESS, Official Beer Partner of the RBS 6 Nations. For exclusive rugby content go to www.facebook.com/guinnessgb