Adam Jones insists Wales can reclaim Six Nations
PROP Adam Jones believes there is no reason why Wales cannot defend their RBS 6 Nations title, despite concerns over injuries and form.
Tighthead Jones, 31, made a welcome return from two months out with a knee injury in the Ospreys' 17-6 Heineken Cup win over Toulouse on Saturday, providing Welsh rugby with a major boost after a miserable autumn.
Jones was absent as Wales suffered an autumn series whitewash which dropped them into the third tier of the world rankings and a fiendishly difficult 2015 World Cup pool including Australia and hosts England.
And prior to the Ospreys' stunning triumph over four-time European kings Toulouse, the regions had managed just one win from nine Heineken Cup games collectively.
Wales have also been hit heavily by injuries and Dan Lydiate, Rhys Priestland, Alun Wyn Jones and Aaron Jarvis will all miss at least part of the Six Nations.
The likes of Ian Evans, Jamie Roberts, Aaron Shingler and Leigh Halfpenny will also need to prove their fitness before the February meeting with Ireland in Cardiff.
But 83-cap front-rower Jones said: "It was tough to miss the autumn series because you know what it's like in camp - the build-up is always exciting.
"It was probably a good series to miss, the way it turned out. But I don't think we've turned into a poor team overnight.
"There's a lot of talent in the squad. If we can get everyone fit, we can give anyone in the Six Nations a run for their money.
"A lot has been made about Warren Gatland being away on Lions duty but the coaches there are fantastic anyway.
"Of course Gats is a big influence, but I don't see why we can't retain our title. It's obviously going to be difficult, but I don't see why not."
The Ospreys' win over Toulouse, which kept the region in the hunt for a quarter-final berth, also highlighted the talent the regions are churning out despite the talent drain to cash-rich French clubs.
The likes of Justin Tipuric, Eli Walker, Ashley Beck and Lloyd Peers all excelled against the French giants, and Jones believes their performances show the benefits of giving youth a chance.
"These boys are getting exposed now in European rugby, so I don't see why we can't kick on," he said.
"It's going to take time. We've seen a lot of boys go to France and we are probably not going to win the Heineken Cup straight away, but performances like this show we can at least compete with these teams."