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Wales rugby: We can't allow ourselves to have a hangover, says Ryan Jones

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 14, 2012

Ryan Jones

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RYAN Jones isn't a man to let a drama turn into a crisis — after 67 caps for Wales and three for the Lions you learn to keep your head when panic buzzers are going off all over the place.

The former Ospreys skipper has seen it all since making his Test debut in 2004, towering highs and deep lows, euphoria and despair, cheers and jeers.

Indeed, there are not too many players a coach would want to have in his squad more during a difficult time than the 31-year-old former Wales and Ospreys skipper.

The teams he plays for might lose but Jones never loses perspective, his experience worth its weight in gold to a young Welsh squad.

"I'd like to think I add value," he said.

"I've been in situations like this several times over the past ten years with club and country.

"Some of the guys won't have faced this in their international careers. Some of them are experienced in terms of caps but the majority of their Test appearances came in a World Cup year.

"It's been a successful 12 or 18 months for the boys and they possibly haven't encountered this pressure and expectation.

"There is a feeling and a desire to put things right.

"But many of the guys have had an awful lot of success quickly. That becomes the norm for them and it can be difficult when you have these blips."

So how do you fix the car when it crashes off the road and every bystander is pointing the finger? How do you make things roadworthy again?

"The process is the same," said Jones. "You pick the bones out of the performance in the same way whether you have won or lost.

"You can't dwell on things. You have to move on because what happened last weekend will have no bearing on what happens on Friday. We can't allow ourselves to have a hangover."

A bad day for Wales yesterday saw Alun Wyn Jones and Josh Turnbull ruled out for the rest of the autumn series, joining fellow casualties Adam Jones and Dan Lydiate, while Jonathan Davies is still unable to train. Ryan Jones was put up for media duties, presumably to provide a good news story: the cavalry riding to the rescue, run you Samoans, run.

But hampered by shoulder trouble, Jones has done very little training. He was waiting to see whether his shoulder reacted to training before Rob Howley finalised his team. A fitness test the Wales management would have been taking special interest in, given the latest damaging injury blows.

"I've been struggling with the shoulder that was previously operated on," said Jones.

"It's the modern game. It's attritional and something that you expect.

"In this day and age you are almost fortunate to finish a game without a bump or a bang.

"It only takes one knock — we saw that with Jamie Roberts's bump against Argentina, which was a pretty innocuous one-on-one, and Alun Wyn Jones's, where he just fell awkwardly.

"These things happen hundreds of times in a game and you only have to get one wrong. That's the nature of modern rugby.

"But I'm desperate to play. I love playing for Wales and I was bitterly disappointed not to be involved last week. I'd love to play a part, because we need to get back to winning ways."

Samoa provided a tough test for Wales at the last World Cup, contesting every blade of grass before succumbing 17-10, a second-half try from Shane Williams propelling Warren Gatland's side to victory.

"I didn't play in the World Cup game, but I remember watching the guys coming off the field and they were exhausted," said Jones.

"It was tough, uncompromising and relentless.

"They are a nation that likes confrontation and you have to match that because if you don't then you don't get enough ball or territory.

"The bare minimum is to match that physicality and desire."

Whether it is against Samoa or New Zealand and Australia later in the series, Jones will bring that physicality and desire.

But just as important are his presence and rugby intelligence.

When he plays well, sides he is involved in tend to perform.

Adversity doesn't faze him. As with all key sportsmen, it merely fires him up.

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