Former Test tighthead Adam Jones had described his horror at seeing Wales denied a Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam at the death last Saturday night in Paris, but he believes the silver lining will be a dominant Welsh representation when Warren Gatland picks his 2021 Lions squad.
A veteran of three Grand Slam triumphs – 2005, 2008 and 2012 – Jones could understand the anguish his fellow countrymen felt when the result dramatically swung against them at the Stade de France, Brice Dulin going over in added time to snatch the Slam from Wales.
Now an assistant coach at Harlequins, Jones’ Saturday had gotten off to an excellent start as his Gallagher Premiership side put Gloucester to the sword with a swashbuckling attacking performance. However, the day ended in crushing disappointment as he watched the wretched end-game unfold from Paris.
“It was f***ing horrendous. Tough. Really felt for the boys. I felt until the last few minutes we didn’t look like losing and when Paul Willemse got sent off, I thought that was the end of it then. I was gobsmacked for about ten minutes afterwards.
“There are a few of the coaches I am very close with. Jonathan Humphreys, Gethin (Jenkins), Stephen (Jones) and the amount of s*** they were having in the autumn, how crap Wales were. I’m thinking well, we’re not that crap.
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“We got to the World Cup semi-final with the team a year or so ago. We won the Grand Slam a year or so ago so, but it’s quick to bag the boys now but they have been unbelievable. I know you boys will say it was a red card that cost Ireland and the Scottish will say there was the red card but you have still got to win the games. You have got to deal with whatever is thrown at you. It just took us that bit of confidence and then we beat England.
“They will be gutted (with Paris). I’m close to Alun Wyn (Jones) and I felt so bad for him. You have a close mate who was at the forefront and that happened, it was tough to watch in the end.”
With the Lions confirming on Tuesday that their tour will definitely go ahead this July in South Africa, Jones, who won five Test caps with the famed tourists along with 95 for Wales, reckons most of Wayne Pivac’s Six Nations starting team can now expect call-ups from Warren Gatland.
“Lineout was excellent, attacking really looks brilliant, there is a bit of depth there now as well,” said Jones, sizing up the key Welsh improvements in recent months that will now put them in the shop window for Lions selection.
“I will say the older fellas really stepped up. You’re talking Ken Owens, obviously Alun Wyn, but Tips (Justin Tipuric) and Toby (Faletau), they took these games by the scruff of the neck, and Dan Biggar had been brilliant.
“There was a bit more rugby played than under Gats (Gatland), but it was still (about) never giving up and we’d keep fighting and fighting and fighting and we were always competitive. It looked like the current team was like the Wales team of the last 15 years, certainly in the Gatland era, probably with a little more of Stephen Jones thrown in for effect.
“It’s great for us, Lions year. If a player says he doesn’t think of the Lions then he is lying. Every player in the championship outside of France and the Italians is thinking about the Lions and we could take a lot.
“Definitely Wyn Jones will be in the mix, Ken, Alun Wyn, (Adam) Beard will be in the mix, the whole back row will be in the mix. You could look at any Wales scrum-half, they are the best scrum-halves around. Tomos Williams, Gareth Davies, obviously Webby (Rhys Webb) is out now, but Biggar had got to be in with a chance.
“George North has been a revelation, (Louis Rees-) Zammit has been unreal, Josh Adams, Liam Williams, there is a lot of players they could take now. In the autumn you’d think it would be majority English but that has been flipped totally on its head now. Alun Wyn as captain? Of course, yeah.”
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— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 22, 2021
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