Jones primed for fly-half tussle
July 15, 2011
Jones recently became the second Welsh international to reach 100 caps © Getty Images
Wales fly-half Stephen Jones is ready for his fourth Rugby World Cup but is aware that he faces a fight to spearhead his side's assault on the sport's biggest prize.
Jones, who was named in Warren Gatland's 35-man training group for the second boot camp, missed the first session in Spala to attend the birth of his son Seb. Centurion Jones now faces the task of impressing head coach Gatland and the rest of the Wales backroom staff before the final 30-man World Cup squad is named on August 22.
The Welsh squad have already experienced the harsh environment of the notorious Cryotherapy chambers from their previous trip to Poland and Jones recognises the hard work ahead. "I have been in the Cryotherapy chambers before and I've also spoken to a few of the boys this week on their return from that first camp so I know what to expect," said Jones. "You are able to work very hard and pack a lot into your training day, which is invaluable, but there is no magic wand to be waved, it's just going to be a lot of hard work for all of us."
Jones appeared in four of Wales' games during the 2011 Six Nations but will face a challenge for the No.10 shirt in the form of James Hook . However, with 100 caps to his name, Jones is an experienced veteran of three World Cups and knows the competition inside out.
"At the moment I'm still very much enjoying my rugby and the challenges that life as international rugby player brings," Jones said. "I'm still feeling good and the body feels good, but in reality I can't look past the next week. What's great is that there is so much competition for places in the squad and healthy competition gives the coaches selection issues, which is ideal for them and for the side in general."
Wales will play England on August 6 in the first of their two back-to-back Tests before facing Argentina in Cardiff on August 20. Jones, who experienced wins over England in 2005 and 2009 at the Millennium Stadium, is relishing the chance to face their old foes. "The win in '05 obviously brings back fond memories as it led to our first Grand Slam for 30 years," added Jones. "Success in '09 was great as well and a number of that squad is still with Wales today, fuelled by the competition from a host of quality youngsters coming through.
"The three World Cup warm-up matches will be perfect preparation for our campaign in New Zealand. It's all about momentum and we need to be able to hit the ground running against South Africa in that first match and we want to be approaching that game on the back of good performances against England and Argentina."
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