Jones - Wales the brave
Ryan Jones is hoping Wales can be "brave" enough to upset the formbook against Scotland in the Six Nations this weekend.
Last Updated: 11/02/11 5:15pm
Ryan Jones is hoping Wales can be "brave" enough to upset the formbook against Scotland this weekend and get their RBS Six Nations campaign back on track.
Warren Gatland's side need to reignite their title hopes after their 26-19 loss to England seven days ago. However, their recent results suggest that the odds are against them at Murrayfield on Saturday.
Wales have now gone eight Tests without a win and triumphed just twice in their last 14 games. Furthermore, they have won in Edinburgh on only three occasions in the last 25 years.
The last time they endured such a prolonged spell in the doldrums was between November 2002 and August 2003 when Steve Hansen's side went on a 10-match losing run.
They are also encountering a Scotland side who, under the guidance of coach Andy Robinson, have toppled world champions South Africa and beaten Argentina twice in South America during the last eight months.
"I've been in and around the environment for a long time now, and been through some highs and lows," said former Wales captain Jones, who wins his 48th cap this weekend.
"I have been very fortunate to have captained the team, and I try and support Matthew (Rees) now in what he is doing. We've also got a lot of youngsters who possibly haven't got that experience to draw upon.
"I am just trying to help them a little bit. If you can say the right thing or put an arm around the shoulder at the right time, I think there is a role for everyone.
"There are certain players in this environment that others will look to when things aren't going so well.
"If those guys are walking round with their heads down, it does have an effect on everyone else.
"We are going to go up there as slight underdogs, and we've got to thrive on that. We've got to make sure we are bold, brave at times too, and certainly be more clinical.
"If we can get a win, then hopefully we will be back on the right road."
Ups and downs
Jones - who stands second only to Ieuan Evans in skippering his country - knows all about the ups and downs of international rugby having led Wales to Grand Slam success three years ago.
He was replaced by Scarlets hooker Rees for this season's autumn Test series and then failed to make the starting line-up against England.
However, Andy Powell's shoulder injury, coupled with Jones' impressive display when he replaced him before half-time last Friday night, means the 29-year-old Ospreys star is back in the number eight shirt.
He added: "As you get older, it's like any job, you draw on different experiences and you try to put things in perspective at times.
"I just thoroughly enjoy playing rugby. It is about going out, being your own man and just playing.
"It's professional sport. You get the highs and lows week to week, the distractions and all the other things that go with it. It's just something you learn to deal with.
"As players, we live in the environment. You have got to go back home and deal with family and friends, who have all got an opinion.
"Whenever you pull on that jersey, there is a duty and there is certainly an expectation from the public and within the squad to perform.
"There is a fantastic cafe down by me in Llangennith (the Gower Peninsula hamlet where Jones lives).
"I go down there and the guy who runs it, Dai, is probably one of our biggest fans. I always spend Sunday morning going through the game with him, while he expresses some coaching tips and things like that!
"People like him are great. They are real genuine fans who want what is best for us. That's what makes it special."
Jones has signed a new contract with Ospreys until 2014 but admits he looked at the possibility of playing club rugby in France - a path soon to be taken by current Wales team-mates James Hook and Lee Byrne.
"There is a huge appeal to it," he said. "It is something I did consider prior to re-signing for the Ospreys.
"But this is my home, this is where my family and friends are and I dearly love the club I play for.
"For me, that was just as important. I've got a network of friends and family around me who are very supportive."
Jones added that he and his team-mates cannot afford to follow the lead of the doom and gloom merchants currently pervading Welsh rugby.
"We've got to take the emotion out of the fact that we haven't won in eight," he said.
"Scotland are not afraid to chuck the ball around. We can't afford to concede yards, because once they get over the gain-line they are very good at keeping the ball and it becomes very difficult to defend.
"We have got to play smart, and we only do that by taking the emotion out of it and playing as a team."