Alun Wyn Jones reveals blood, sweat and tears of Wales’ Wallabies preparations
Warren Gatland’s men are building up to a huge World Cup battle against Australia.
Alun Wyn Jones has highlighted Wales’ intense preparations to face World Cup rivals Australia by revealing “there was a bit of red stuff flowing” in training.
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Skipper Jones will become Wales’ most-capped player when he leads his country against the Wallabies in Tokyo on Sunday.
Jones wins his 130th cap, breaking the previous record held by prop Gethin Jenkins, with Wales unchanged following a 43-14 victory over Georgia on Monday.
He won his first cap in Patagonia in 2006. Thirteen years later, @AlunWynJones will break the Welsh record when he wins his 130th cap in Tokyo at #RWC2019. Dyn hynod ysbrydoledig. pic.twitter.com/FVoafUtc5N— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) September 27, 2019
A win for Wales would put them in pole position to win their group and set up a potential quarter-final against France or Argentina.
But if the Wallabies claim a 14th triumph from their last 15 meetings with Wales, then Gatland’s men could find themselves hurtling towards a last-eight appointment with England, so the stakes are high.
“There has been a few guys frustrated with selection, which is a good thing,” Jones said. “That breeds competitiveness within the squad.
“There was a bit of red stuff flowing yesterday, which was all well-meant because it was for the betterment of the team.
“We have tried things (in the World Cup warm-up Tests) and we’ve held a bit back. We had rotation in the warm-up games and we came out of the blocks well, like we asked, against Georgia.
“We have got another opportunity. Gats has already said we perform when big games come around. We have a big Test in front of us and we won’t shy away from that.”
While Wales field the same team for Sunday’s Pool D showdown, Australia boss Michael Cheika has made four changes – and Gatland believes that is a sign of respect.
“That’s how far we’ve come as a team over a number of years,” Gatland said.
“I don’t think this was always the case with Wales. Teams probably wouldn’t consider our attacking threats or any threats at all.
“To me, this is a sign of respect. We’ve got two great sides out there and hopefully it’s a great game of rugby.”
Centre Hadleigh Parkes and hooker Ken Owens, who both suffered knocks during the Georgia game, are among a starting XV featuring nine survivors from Wales’ narrow win against Australia last November.
There are also further opportunities for prop Wyn Jones and flanker Aaron Wainwright after they made their World Cup debuts against Georgia.
Alun Wyn Jones will break the Welsh record for most test appearances as part of an unchanged starting XV to face Australia in #RWCTokyo Cap rhif 130 i'r capten o Abertawe wrth i Gymru ddigyfnewid wynebu'r Wallabies yn brifddinas Japan ar ddydd Sul.— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) September 27, 2019
📰 - https://t.co/AqGz2elukG pic.twitter.com/rblk0jsrKJ
Wales have not claimed a World Cup success against Australia since 1987, when they won a third-place play-off encounter 22-21 in Rotorua, New Zealand.
Gatland added: “We have not really looked too far ahead. If you do get out of the group, the quarter-finals are going to be pretty tough.
“It is about taking one game at a time and trying to build and create momentum. We feel as if we are a team who are capable of doing that.
“It is going to be a tough Australian team, but we have had some close battles in recent times and we were good enough to get a win last time.
“Losing games in the last minute in half a dozen contests can be quite demoralising, but we really focused on last autumn’s campaign and it was really important to us with two big games against Australia and South Africa.
“Australia was definitely one we went in trying to right the wrongs and coming away with a win.”
Gatland, meanwhile, paid a glowing tribute to his captain as he prepares for a record-breaking Wales appearance.
“He’s a great competitor,” Gatland said. “Since he’s been captain we don’t have as many fights at training, because he used to start most of them!
“That’s how competitive he was. People who get to the top have a drive and a desire to want to be successful, and he’s definitely done that.
“We’re very lucky to have him in the team and captaining the side.”