Monday 14 October 2019

'Galvanised' Wales keep focus on grand designs despite club fears

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones during the captain's run. Photo: PA
Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones during the captain's run. Photo: PA

James Corrigan

Never mind 'Project Reset' or 'Project Inept' or whatever the warring factors are now calling the chaotic overhaul of Welsh rugby.

Alun Wyn Jones strode on to the Murrayfield pitch for his Captain's Run yesterday and announced the only project his team were focused on was continuing their winning run and giving themselves a shot at the Grand Slam in Cardiff next Saturday. Call it 'Project Reward'.

In fact, Jones - the totemic lock who would set a national record today by appearing in a 62nd Welsh win - issued a warning for anyone who might believe the visitors' minds could be elsewhere because of the turmoil at home (which has featured reports of the Ospreys closing, the Ospreys and Cardiff Blues merging, the Ospreys and the Scarlets merging and, most latterly, none of the above).

"You can use the word 'galvanised' because that's what it's felt like we have been this week," he said.

"It's been nice to be able to have the outlet that is rugby and also have an away game, which has been a blessing in the last week."

Jones was keen to stress that it was not just a case of "carry on regardless", as they still want answers as to where their week-to-week livelihoods will come from next season.

The 33-year-old is out of contract in November but, as a statesmanlike figure in the domestic game, he is also concerned for the squad players.

He is clearly confused as well as angry.

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"There are no words I can use about what has happened this week," he said.

"Ultimately, we are not politicians, we are professional players, and we focus on the rugby. At the moment, that's the easy bit."

Not that Wales are expecting this Edinburgh encounter to be easy. Anything but. Granted, they have lost to Scotland only once in their past 12 meetings and an injury-ravaged Townsend team have hardly impressed so far in this Six Nations.

But two years ago, the red shirts arrived in this capital full of confidence and, after leading at half-time, were walloped 29-13.

"I know we've played them twice at home since then, but they call this 'Fortress Murrayfield' don't they?" Jones added.

How the home crowd would celebrate seeing Warren Gatland beaten in his last Six Nations game - with Wales anyway - in Edinburgh. How they would love to watch his farewell Grand Slam derailed and take themselves out of the wooden-spoon picture. 'Project Revenge' maybe?

Scotland v Wales, Live, Virgin Media 1/BBC1, 2.15

Scotland - B Kinghorn; T Seymour, N Griggow, P Horne, D Graham; F Russell, A Price; A Dell, S McInally (capt), W Nel; G Gilchrist, J Gray; M Bradbury, J Ritchie, J Strauss. Reps: F Brown, G Reid, S Berghan, B Toolis, H Watson, G Laidlaw, A Hastings, B McGuigan.

Wales - L Williams; G North, J Davies, H Parkes, J Adams; G Anscombe, G Davies; R Evans, K Owens, T Francis; A Beard, A W Jones (capt), J Navidi, J Tipuric, R Moriarty. Reps: E Dee, N Smith, D Lewis, J Ball, A Wainwright, A Davies, D Biggar, O Watkin.

Ref - Pascal Gauzere (France).

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