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Wales determined to retain crown - Jones

Mark Jones has underlined the sense of "steely determination" that exists within the Wales squad to successfully defend their RBS 6 Nations title.

Wales will go into this season's tournament following seven successive defeats. They have not beaten another Test-playing country since defeating France in Cardiff last March to be crowned Six Nations Grand Slam champions.

Ireland are first up at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday, with Wales targeting a fourth win in a row against opponents they knocked out of World Cup contention 15 months ago. "Every player deals with losing and victory in different ways," Wales attack coach and former international wing Jones said.

"But one thing I can say is that whenever I lost a game, the next time I went out I was even more determined to make sure the next result was a good one. I think there is definitely that steely determination here that we are the Grand Slam champions and we want to make sure we give ourselves the best opportunity to retain that mantle."

In the recent autumn series, Ireland crushed Argentina and should have beaten South Africa. They also have the likes of Brian O'Driscoll, Rob Kearney and Sean O'Brien in their team again after injury, although those high-profile returns are balanced by players such as Tommy Bowe, Paul O'Connell and Stephen Ferris being unavailable.

"They are a well rounded team," Jones added. "They've got the ability to play the game territorially, they can keep possession and go through phase play if they want to, and they've got a goalkicker, or a couple of goalkickers, who can hurt you from all aspects of the field."

Jones, meanwhile, has given short shrift to Jim Telfer's reported jibe that Wales players are "lazy". Former Scotland and British and Irish Lions coach Telfer caused a stir with his comments in a national newspaper.

But Jones said: "There is absolutely nothing lazy about the work ethic of the coaches or certainly the playing staff. Three Grand Slams in the last few years suggests being lazy isn't something that goes on here."

And Wales wing Alex Cuthbert, who scored the decisive try when Wales beat France to be crowned Six Nations champions last season, said: "It's his (Telfer's) opinion, but I know how hard the boys work. We have shown in a lot of games where we come out on top as the fittest team, especially in last year's Six Nations, and hopefully we can show it again.

"Everything we do (in preparation) is at a really high intensity to make sure we get as close as possible to that game standard."


From Belfast Telegraph