Thursday 25 April 2019

Gatland changed my career, admits Jones

Pulling power: Adam Jones and Tommy Bowe at a Six Nations media day in Dublin yesterday Photo: INPHO/Billy Stickland
Pulling power: Adam Jones and Tommy Bowe at a Six Nations media day in Dublin yesterday Photo: INPHO/Billy Stickland
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Given the circumstances in which Warren Gatland essentially ended his international career, Adam Jones could be forgiven for having some sort of resentment towards the Wales boss.

Having just clocked up 100 caps for his country, Jones was still a cornerstone of the Welsh scrum until Gatland felt it was time for a changing of the guard.

The former Ireland head coach is ruthless, as Brian O'Driscoll will attest to, and Jones felt the full wrath of that at a time when he felt that he still had something to offer.

Now with the shoe on the other foot as scrum coach with Harlequins, Jones understands that there is no room for sentimentality.

"He's a fantastic coach," the former prop, who enjoyed spells with the Ospreys, Cardiff Blues and Quins, says of Gatland. "He was great with me, he changed my career, I was kind of plateauing, he gave me a kick up the a**e, I won a lot of things under him. My career didn't finish the way I wanted - he dropped me, but such is life.

"Coaching now, you realise these things happen, and certainly one of the things with him is he's not afraid to make big calls.

"International rugby sometimes, you don't need to beat around the bush, just be direct; he manages the boys very well. He's not a massive speaker, just chats little bits here and there - a little word in the ear. He realises quickly how each of the boys tick.

"I needed to be a certain weight. He'd come up and give you a nudge, 'You're looking fit', and as a player that gives you a tap on the a**e. He's a good man manager, doesn't say a lot, but if you get a look off him you know you've done wrong.

"He'll back himself, he takes the pressure off the players really well by chucking a few smoke grenades up there. Sometimes it's nice for a player. At times we've chatted, 'Why has he said that?', but it seems to work often enough."

Jones was a two-times Lions tourist in 2009 and 2013 when Andy Farrell was part of the coaching team.

Growing up as a rugby league fan, he regularly watched the incoming Ireland head coach with Wigan, so when he got the chance to work under the defensive guru he was understandably excited - even if everyone else didn't share his enthusiasm.

"I am sure he will do a great job, he is that type of character," Jones insists. "I guess it's a different thing but look, it's kind of the same with Shaun (Edwards).

"I would say one of the most exciting things that ever happened, we were doing a defence drill in the Vale and he said, 'Good work, Bomb'. He knew me by my nickname and I literally couldn't wait to tell my wife about it.

"I sent her a text saying, 'Andy Farrell called me Bomb' and she was like, 'Alright, okay, well done.' I was so excited about it."

Jones is wary about what the Kiwi and Farrell will have up their sleeve as he believes the Kiwi will have a plan tailor-made to counteract Wales' strengths. "Schmidt's an unbelievable coach, he'll have different tricks up his sleeve."

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