Jones expecting tough test
Ryan Jones thinks France have been "superb" during the Six Nations so far and admits Wales will need to be on top form to beat them.
Last Updated: 25/02/10 5:06pm
Wales captain Ryan Jones readily admits his side have been on an emotional rollercoaster during this year's RBS Six Nations.
The 2010 tournament might only be two rounds old, but it has proved an eventful month for Wales, on and off the pitch.
It all started with the Ospreys' 16th player saga that saw Wales full-back Lee Byrne banned, and then cleared, just days before a Twickenham opener against England.
Alun-Wyn Jones' damaging sin-binning at Twickenham quickly followed - Wales conceded 17 points in his absence - prior to a stunning injury-time victory over Scotland, before Andy Powell's so-called 'Buggygate' misdemeanour hogged the headlines.
And the squad has been offering considerable collective support this week to lock Bradley Davies following the death of his mother Cheryl.
The team, which includes Davies for his first Six Nations start, will wear black armbands and observe a minute's silence in her memory before facing title favourites France at the Millennium Stadium on Friday evening.
Powell was subsequently dropped by Wales boss Warren Gatland after being charged with drink-driving, while injuries also struck key players, including a British and Irish Lions trio of Alun-Wyn Jones, Gethin Jenkins and Matthew Rees.
"We've had a rollercoaster of emotions individually and collectively as a squad," said Wales captain Jones, who leads his country for the 22nd time, a figure bettered only by former wing wizard Ieuan Evans.
"International rugby is quite stressful and uncompromising but everyone knows what is expected of them in this environment. If you let yourself down, you pay the price - you know what is at stake.
"It seems to be the in-thing with footballers at the moment with everything that is going on. There is a media hunger for those indiscretions away from the field.
"You just have to behave. Unfortunately, Andy (Powell) didn't and he paid the price, but I don't believe the door is closed for him.
"The stall is set out by Warren and you have to adhere to the rules and regulations and the responsibilities of what this environment entails.
"It has been a bit of a rollercoaster on and off the field in this Six Nations. We've also seen quite a big turnover of players as well, which is unusual.
"But it is something you have to deal with and move on."
Wales' latest appointment with Les Bleus - they have lost four from five at home in the Six Nations against them - marks a watershed moment of their campaign.
Beat France and Wales will head to Ireland in a fortnight's time with Six Nations silverware still an attainable target. Lose though, and it is potentially mid-table mediocrity at best.
"It's a huge game for us," acknowledged Jones, who skippers a side showing five changes from the Scotland thriller, including lock Jonathan Thomas' switch to blindside flanker instead of Powell.
"They (France) have been nothing short of superb the last two games, so to a man we have got to be on top of our game.
"I have said for two years that if we get our own house in order, we will do well.
"Teams are creating very little against us. It's the likes of missed tackles, defensive line errors and turnover ball that have cost us."