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Tough Dublin clash is perfect preparation, says Wales skipper

Hungry: Alun Wyn Jones can’t wait to get to the World Cup
Hungry: Alun Wyn Jones can’t wait to get to the World Cup

By Nick Purewal

Alun Wyn Jones insists the World Cup starts in Dublin today after Wales face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium.

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The Wales captain admitted Warren Gatland's men are itching to jet out to Japan, with their World Cup opener coming against Georgia on September 23.

Today's clash with Joe Schmidt's Ireland represents Wales' last hit-out before the global battle commences, leaving Jones desperate to get cracking.

"It has been a hectic week but we've still got a Test match to prepare for and we've done that; this game is good World Cup prep," said the lock.

"There's a bit of a lay-off after this before we take the field competitively, so this game is a good chance to see where we are.

"We'll focus on the opportunity to play."

Jones was rested for Wales' 22-17 loss to Ireland in Cardiff last weekend, missing out on boss Gatland's last match in charge at the Principality Stadium.

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Now the Ospreys star cannot wait to sink his teeth back into Test action, after Wales named their 31-man World Cup squad last weekend.

"It was disappointing not to be involved in Gats' last game at home," said Jones.

"But it's still an occasion here, with Rory Best and Joe Schmidt's last one in Dublin.

"For us it's more the start of the World Cup prep.

"We've got this game before we go out so it's more the start of things for us."

Meanwhile Rhys Patchell admits that he has endured "a challenging year" ahead of his return to the Wales Test team.

Patchell effectively faced a straight fight with Jarrod Evans for one World Cup berth, and they each had a final 40-minute audition at the Principality Stadium six days ago.

And it was Patchell who won the coaches' vote, meaning he avoided a repeat of missing out as he had done for the 2015 World Cup when he was among an initial contingent cut from Wales' expanded tournament training squad.

"He (Evans) dropped me a text after the announcement, and I replied," Patchell added. "That was very good of him.

"Of course I felt for him. I could completely empathise with him, having been there myself four years ago.

"It is not an easy position to be in. That is sport, someone has to miss out. I felt for all nine of the boys who got a phone call or text.

"Jarrod and I were distinctly aware that as a 10 you have to do what is best for your team. You can only deal with what is in front of you.

"I was talking to friends and family on the Friday night saying 'this is it, we will see how it goes'.

"It is difficult, trying to be as good as you can on the day."

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