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Gatland: AWJ is going nowhere

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PRO 14    

'He's not going anywhere... I'm 100 per cent convinced of that'

Newly-appointed Lions boss Warren Gatland has dismissed speculation that Wales skipper Alun Wyn Jones is considering a move away from the Ospreys. 

There have been rumours in recent weeks that the talisman lock has been approached by Bristol regarding a possible switch to the Gallagher Premiership. 

Jones’ dual WRU/Ospreys contract is due to elapse following the World Cup, but Gatland, his Welsh coach since 2008, is convinced the 33-year-old isn’t going anywhere any time soon.  

“The talk of him going to France or England is just speculation,” said Gatland to Sunday media following his unveiling as 2021 Lions coach last Wednesday. 

“He’s not going anywhere. I’m 100 per cent convinced of that. He gets exceptionally well looked after by Wales and the Ospreys, and he knows that. 

“Why do you want to jeopardise the fact that you play 21-22 games a year to all of a sudden going to play potentially another 10 or 15 matches?”

Gatland suggested in London in midweek that Jones, recently awarded the freedom of Swansea, and England’s Owen Farrell are currently the leading candidates to skipper the squad in South Africa.

However, Farrell could potentially miss out on that honour unless the Premiership agrees to bring forward the date of its 2021 final and guarantee all players from England an extra week to prepare for the three-Test, eight-match tour. 

The Guinness PRO14 has already confirmed it will switch its final to enable players from its league extra Lions prep time. 

“The hardest thing is how they recover from that Premiership final, because the first game in South Africa is maybe the following week,” suggested Gatland.  

“That gives limited preparation time. How many could be involved in the final – maybe eight to 10 players. And let’s be honest about it, that is a disadvantage.  

“You are coming to the Lions squad where guys have already been together for a week and will be ready to play in that first game. So there’s no doubt there will be some disadvantage if the game is on that date, and they only come together pretty late.”

WATCH: Part one of the two-part RugbyPass documentary on what fans can expect in Japan at this year’s World Cup

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'He's not going anywhere... I'm 100 per cent convinced of that'