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Jones: Quick World Cup start vital

Former Wales captain Ryan Jones admits Warren Gatland's side have to hit the ground running at the Rugby World Cup if they are to make it out of the 'Group of Death'.

At least one of Wales, hosts England or two-time winners Australia will fall at the first hurdle this autumn, with the trio drawn together in Pool A.

Wales take on England at Twickenham in their second match and will be gunning for revenge after their RBS 6 Nations loss to Stuart Lancaster's men at the Millennium Stadium in February.

It is a clash Jones believes will go a long way to deciding the fate of both nations at the tournament.

" You can't afford a slow start, it's an incredibly tough group," Jones, who won 75 caps for Wales, told Press Association Sport.

"W hether they get out or not is going to be dictated by how well they start, how quickly they galvanise over the next 10 weeks and also how England and Australia fare.

"I think we'll have a better idea of that when we see the friendlies in the summer, when we see the squads settle a bit, see the form the players are in, what shape they're in, see what injuries they come out with. There's a lot to go between now and then before we start talking about favourites.

"There's certainly no reason why Wales can't get out of the group."

Wales face warm-up matches home and away against Ireland in August and versus Italy at the Millennium Stadium the following month before opening their World Cup campaign against Uruguay on September 20.

They travel to Twickenham for the crunch clash with England six days later.

" That could define both nations' World Cups," said Jones, who was speaking from a community event at South Gower RFC as the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour continued its route around the British Isles.

"T hat's an enormous fixture, it's an enormous fixture outside of a Rugby World Cup, let along with everything that's at stake on September 26."


From Belfast Telegraph