Jones braced for scrum battle
Wales prop Adam Jones is expecting a ferocious contest with England's "big old pack" at Twickenham.
Last Updated: 05/02/10 6:18pm
Wales prop Adam Jones is expecting a ferocious contest with England's "big old pack" at Twickenham on Saturday.
Jones has lost two of his front-row colleagues, fellow Lions Matthew Rees and Gethin Jenkins, to injury in the build-up to the RBS Six Nations opener.
Osprey's team-mate Paul James and Cardiff Blues hooker Gareth Williams have stepped in alongside Jones, who knows his side underestimate England at their peril.
"England have picked a big old pack, so we know it is going to be tough," said Jones, who weighs more than 19 stones.
"If you underestimate any opponent, then you are going to struggle.
"On Saturday, we are talking about an England front row that has a Lions loosehead prop (Tim Payne), the captain of a Guinness Premiership team (Dylan Hartley) and the best scrummaging tighthead in England (David Wilson).
"I can't see how that is going to be anything other than hard. We know it is not going to be easy."
Jones was one of the Lions' success stories on last year's tour of South Africa, an experience that sent his confidence levels soaring.
"This is the first time in my career that I feel comfortable going into every game," he added. "It is definitely something that has come from the Lions tour for me.
"When I started out in my career I would fear playing against certain teams, but that fear has gone and I now always back myself, whether it is for the Ospreys or Wales."
Wales captain Ryan Jones, whose team are seeking first back-to-back Twickenham wins since the late 1970s, readily acknowledges how critical a role his namesake will play.
"You cannot win big games, big Test matches, without a set piece," said the skipper.
"You cannot afford to be conceding three points or turnovers every time you have a scrum.
"Coupled with that scrummaging strength, Adam is a fantastic footballer too - something he is isn't always given the credit he deserves.
"You see him run round the training park and I think he believes he is Shane Williams in someone else's body!
"He is a professional. He knows what his job is and he is extremely good at it, which is what you want from every individual in each position on the field."
It is all a far cry from the days when Adam Jones' early Test career would see him regularly taken off before half-time by former Wales coach Steve Hansen due to fitness concerns.
And the captain added: "I am good friends with Adam, and it's great that he has turned round and stuck two fingers up to all those people who ever doubted him.
"What he brings to a game has often been undervalued, but now it has come full circle and people are starting to really appreciate the work and effort he puts in.
"He is vastly experienced. He has got close on 60 caps now, and when you go into big games like this one at Twickenham you need people with that experience to call upon.
"It is the way the game has gone that the set piece has become more and more important.
"Defences are so good that unless you have a good set piece you can't launch anything. You take away the scrum and life becomes extremely difficult.
"When you come out on top there it just gives you that little lift, especially when you are playing away from home. It's a huge advantage."