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Wales ready for Ireland's response to record defeat, says Jones

 

Confident mood: Ryan Jones believes Wales are ready for Ireland test
Confident mood: Ryan Jones believes Wales are ready for Ireland test

By Steffan Thomas

Ryan Jones is predicting a ferocious backlash from Ireland following their record defeat at Twickenham, but still believes Warren Gatland's experimental Welsh side will cope with it.

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Joe Schmidt's men were beaten 25-7 on their last visit to Cardiff in March when Gatland's Wales secured the third Six Nations Grand Slam of the New Zealander's reign.

Last weekend they were sunk under an avalanche of eight tries in a record 57-15 loss to England.

Now they face back-to-back games against No.1 ranked team Wales before heading to Japan for the World Cup.

"Ireland will want to go into the World Cup with a couple of wins under their belt to give them some confidence," said former Wales captain and three-time Grand Slammer Jones.

"The clever play here is we are combating it with a group of guys who are playing for their World Cup opportunities. It is very much like we saw England do in the first warm-up match against us.

"We are going to be competitive because we have a game plan and the players will know what is expected of them. It is at home, the fans will be out in their droves and we have all the ingredients for a very fierce Test match.

"Wales tried some different things at Twickenham and then came back the next week and played differently. We showed all the traits that make us hugely competitive."

Wales moved to No.1 in the World Rugby rankings at the second time of asking with their 13-6 home win over England the week after a 33-19 loss at Twickenham. They will need to win to stay there this weekend when they will be defending an 11-match unbeaten home run.

But while Jones concedes winning breeds confidence, he doesn't believe you should read too much into results at this stage of the build-up to Japan.

"We're still in a period of preparation. You don't gear anything to peak in early August - it is all geared to peaking in September," added Jones.

"The guys are pretty tired and pretty run down and beat up because they have had it tough. It is about giving them the game time they need and peaking in a month's time.

"It has been a smart way of approaching the warm-up games because all the guys will have some rugby under their belts."

Both Wales and Ireland are set to field experimental sides in what is a final chance for the two sets of players to earn World Cup selection. Wales will be captained by Josh Navidi for the first time.

Jones also believes the Welsh crowd could play a huge part in making it an emotional farewell for Gatland in what will be his 67th and final game in charge of Wales at Principality Stadium before he stands down at the end of the World Cup.

"Sometimes Warren portrays himself as a plain character who is difficult to read, but he loves Wales, Welsh rugby and the people of Wales. It will be emotional for him this weekend," said Jones.

"It is a great opportunity for the Welsh fans to come out and show him what he means to us. He is going to be missed because he has been a fantastic servant to Welsh rugby."

Wales

Ireland

World Cup Warm-Up Test

Principality Stadium, Saturday, 2.30pm

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