Wales hopeful on Ryan Jones' fitness
January 23, 2013
Ryan Jones should be fit for Wales' Six Nations opener © Getty Images
Jones dislocated his finger playing for the Ospreys against Leicester 10 days ago but he looks set to be fit to return to the field in time for their clash with Ireland. "With Ryan it is just the healing process," Howley said. "Thankfully, scans and x-rays showed there was no fracture."
The news will come as a massive boost to Wales who are currently without six of their players ahead of the opener. Rhys Priestland, Aaron Jarvis and Luke Charteris are ruled out of the entire tournament, while players like Alun-Wyn Jones, Bradley Davies and Dan Lydiate are also currently unavailable.
Jones (shoulder) and Lydiate (ankle) remain on course to possibly play a part later in the tournament, which Wales kick off against Ireland on Saturday week before facing France in Paris seven days later. "Dan is looking to be probably available at the latter end of the championship," added Howley. "He is ahead in terms of his recuperation at the moment.
"He is ahead of schedule, but we are obviously mindful of workload. We will take that decision as, and when, we need to. Player welfare is so important, and we need to look after Dan and just not put him in for the sake of putting him in. If he's right, both physically and mentally, and he is available then he comes into our selection."
A huge fitness boost for Wales, though, will be the return of star prop Adam Jones, whom missed this season's entire autumn series that produced successive defeats against Argentina, Samoa, New Zealand and Australia.
"We certainly missed Adam in the autumn series," Howley said. "When you look at his influence in the world game, he is probably one of the best tightheads in world rugby. I am sure he will have a huge influence. The competition in our front-row and the experience we've got there, it can be a focal part of this Six Nations campaign."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament
A selection of the best pictures from England's historic World Cup triumph in Paris as they beat Canada 21-9
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Women's World Cup, the opening round of the Top 14 and the Rugby Championship