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Alun Wyn Jones ready-made for Wales captaincy

It says everything about Sam Warburton's leadership skills that Alun Wyn Jones has only captained his country five times.

But that is now about to change, with 31-year-old Ospreys lock Jones having been appointed Wales skipper for this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship.

And while Warburton steps down after a Wales record 49 Tests at the helm - plus two as British and Irish Lions captain - during which time his country can reflect on reaching a World Cup semi-final and winning two Six Nations titles, Jones is a ready-made successor.

At the start of a year when he is many pundits' choice to lead the Lions in New Zealand, Wales fans can expect 6ft 6in Jones to move seamlessly into a role he will take in his considerable stride.

Since making his Test debut against Argentina in the rugby outpost of Puerto Madryn, Patagonia more than 10 years ago - he started as blindside flanker - Jones has developed into arguably Wales' greatest second-row forward, winning 105 caps and currently standing second on his country's all-time cap list behind prop Gethin Jenkins.

Jones has proved to be a pillar of strength during Warren Gatland's nine-year Wales coaching reign, a go-to player whose standards never wane.

If a mould could be made of the modern rugby professional, then Jones would be the prototype for such an invention.

Time and time again, he has delivered the goods for Wales and the Ospreys, the Swansea-based region where he has clocked up more than 200 appearances, making himself an immovable object.

Jones' consistency of performance is staggering. His work-rate alone makes it a stamina-sapping business just watching him play, whether at set-piece time, through a tackle count rarely not in double figures or just his unflinching desire to drive team-mates on.

He is not someone who courts publicity, and occasionally he appears uncomfortable in the media spotlight, but to spend time with Jones is an intriguing experience. Yes, he can come across sometimes as a complex character, but he is also utterly fascinating and never afraid to say what he thinks.

Cliches rarely find a place in Jones' vocabulary, and it is fair to deduce that he does not suffer fools, but just five minutes in his company can often be more illuminating than half-an-hour with many others.

Like Warburton, Jones' hard-earned reputation goes before him; like Warburton, Jones is a wonderful rugby player whose ability to perform at the highest level commands global respect; like Warburton, he is far more a 'do as I do' not 'do as I say' character; like Warburton, Wales are lucky to have him.

And while the captaincy duties might have passed from back-row to second-row, Wales have lost nothing in terms of quality, leadership and a winning mentality.

Just like Warburton, Jones was cut out to be captain of his country, and while there might have been a change at the top, things remain the same in so many other ways.


From Belfast Telegraph