Jones targets first World Cup
July 19, 2011
Jones has won two Grand Slams with Wales but will hope to add a World Cup to the mantelpiece © PA Photos
Wales No.8 Ryan Jones has his eyes firmly set on making Warren Gatland's final 30-man squad for the 2011 World Cup after suffering the heartbreak of missing out on 2007's showpiece through injury.
The former Wales captain shone in the 2005 British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand but had to sit out the World Cup two years later after sustaining a shoulder injury. And Jones is now back in the Wales reckoning after starting four of Wales' five games during the 2011 Six Nations and the backrow hopes to utilise his experience of the 2005 Lions Tour during Wales' World Cup campaign.
"I would dearly love to be there (RWC 2011), I know New Zealand is a great place to play rugby," said Jones. "I've toured there with the Lions and going there with Wales last year was a great experience and going there for the World Cup would have to be the ultimate for any rugby player.
"A World Cup would be a new thing for me and it's something every international rugby player wants to experience. It's one of the boxes that I've yet to tick and I'm going to do everything in my power, personally, to try to make sure I'm there. But we have three tough matches first before we go out there."
Wales face England at Twickenham on August 6 and at the Millennium Stadium on Augsut 13 before completing their World Cup preparations against Argentina on August 20. Two days after the Pumas Test, Gatland will name his final 30-man squad. Jones recognises he faces a challenge for a place in the Wales backrow from youngsters Toby Faletau and Justin Tipuric, with Faletau earning his first Wales cap against the Barbarians on June 4. The 52-cap backrow has tipped both to make a huge impact in Welsh rugby, but whether they have done enough to persuade Gatland that they warrant inclusion in his final World Cup squad remains to be seen.
"We have a squad overflowing with good youngsters at the moment they are all good athletes and they have all hit form at the right time for the rugby world cup," said Jones. "The likes of Toby Faletau and Justin Tipuric are keeping us all looking over our shoulders and I'm looking forward to seeing how they do at international level.
"I know Toby has his cap already but it seems like there is much more to come from him and I know all about Justin from the Ospreys and they are both exciting players.
"Justin has had a good amount of game-time at the Ospreys and everyone has been impressed with him. He is an out and out seven, he plays with that innate ability to read the game, he knows all about the dark arts of that position and he is great athlete to boot.
"He is going to be a huge asset for the Ospreys and I can't wait to see how he goes for Wales. He is one of the new breed of professional rugby players who has been coached through the levels and is now ready to step up. There are obviously different things to consider at the top level, but it is going to be interesting to watch him make the step up as there is no doubting his ability."
Wales meet Samoa in their World Cup pool and the Islanders' 32-23 defeat of Australia has not gone un-noticed in deep Eastern Europe where the Welsh squad are currently going through their second week at the gruelling boot camp in Spala, Poland.
"We've obviously read all about Samoa's win over Australia and we'll get to the video tapes at some stage, but it certainly comes as no surprise that they can turn over teams on their day," added Jones. "We know what to expect from them and similarly from Fiji and if there is any side that doesn't need to be told about the dangers of underestimating either of them then it's Wales.
"However, I've always been a big believer that past games count for nothing and that any side can win on any given day. Obviously that works both ways which Samoa have shown, but we will prepare well and then, when we get to New Zealand, it will be about what happens on the pitch and nothing else will matter when that whistle goes."
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