Alun-Wyn Jones not biting on possible Johnny Sexton injury

Experienced Wales captain and three-time Lion will be unfazed by Dublin showdown

Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton receives attention during the captain’s run at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton receives attention during the captain’s run at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

Alun-Wyn Jones, the captain of Wales, has been around the block. Three Lions’ tours, Wales’ most capped forward and he’s listening to the story of Johnny Sexton sitting out part of the captain’s run, the outhalf taking back rubs.

Jones barely blinks.

“We’ve  done our team run, they’ll have done theirs,” he says. “You forget sometimes the team run is a necessity rather than the core of your training week. We’ve had a lot of guys who have sat out in the past. It is not a focus for us. I’m sure they won’t be worried about it either.”

The lock knows all about Sexton. They have toured twice with the Lions. There is a sense he feels the focus on the outhalf is misplaced, that this game will be won along traditional lines.

“The right to play wide has been in vogue for how many years now?,” he says dismissively. “It’s ultimately who sticks to processes, gets the upper hand and out to the pretty boys out the back.”

He might add that targeting the outhalf is another of the enduring clichés alongside playing it out wide. What he won’t do is, with Wales outhalf Dan Biggar in mind, lionise the Irish pivot. Damn Sexton with faint praise, that’s all right.

“I played alongside Johnny on two Lions tours. He’s your typical 10, very demanding, knows what he wants and fiercely competitive.

Alun-Wyn Jones: “We are not going to focus on the people who aren’t there. We’ll focus on the players who are there.”
Alun-Wyn Jones: “We are not going to focus on the people who aren’t there. We’ll focus on the players who are there.”

“I think, no disrespect to Johnny, I think that’s a quality of all tens. The difference he has is that he has done it at the highest level and can repeat that . . .”

Joey Carbery, says the Welsh captain, is overall a bit more elusive and less more process driven than Sexton. Actually, who lines out for Ireland doesn’t matter to him.

His sangfroid has been earned. Wales’s record in Dublin has not been bad. The last match in 2016 was a 16-16 draw and Wales won the one before that, a World Cup warm-up in August 2015, 10-16.

Different jersey

Two years ago, though, is bah humbug. Things have moved along. Henshaw, O’Brien, Henderson, Heaslip, Furlong, Payne, Ringrose when fully fit and functional would be starting.

It doesn’t raise an eyebrow on Jones. Dublin. Aviva Stadium. Home fires burning and the scent of a Grand Slam is no distraction.

“Well it was England-Wales last week,” he says. “Is it any different? It is international Test rugby. Yes, it’s a different jersey.”

For Warren Gatland’s 100th Test match? There must be some emotional residue in that cold and calculating Welsh heart of his.

“Gat’s is pretty comfortable to play that down,” says the captain. “Everything he’s done has been for the team whether people have liked it or not liked it.

“We are not going to focus on the people who aren’t there. We’ll focus on the players who are there like [Andrew] Porter, [Dan] Leavy, James Ryan.

“We’ve done a bit of analysis. But as I say when you get an opportunity you play a bit stronger, try a bit harder. I’m sure those guys will do that.”

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.