Six Nations: Alun Wyn Jones speaks ahead of becoming most-capped international in Wales vs Scotland
Alun Wyn Jones speaks ahead of becoming rugby union’s most-capped international when he plays his 149th Test in Wales vs Scotland in the Six Nations on Saturday.
The Wales captain will earn his 140th cap for his country, which in addition to his nine caps for the British & Irish Lions will take him past former New Zealand captain Richie McCaw’s record which Jones equalled last week.
At a press conference on Friday, Jones played down the calibre of his achievements, while also describing the support his family have offered him through the years.
“For me, you’re only as good as your next one – not your last one,” Jones said when asked about his impending world record.
“I’m conscious of who I do it for, what I do it for and I’ll treat Saturday in the same vein.
“We are very fortunate to be able to take the field. We all know the benefits of sport and I don’t take this for granted.
“The support you have in elite sport is second to none. Parents and family have been the backstop.
“I’ve been very fortunate that my mum, sister and dad – when he was around – have kept me grounded. I can’t say enough about my family. When I do finish they will still be there and I’m all too aware of that.
“I’ve been conscious to make the most of every opportunity I’ve had.
“I wouldn’t be arrogant or ignorant enough to think that I’ve got a divine right to be here for an extended period of time. But I’ll earn the position, I’ll earn the place and if that allows me to maintain and be a part of the sport then fine.”
When asked how he was feeling about the added attention this week has brought, Jones replied: “Slightly uncomfortable. It feels like a sideshow.
“I’m hugely flattered but it’s ultimately words – the game will move on next week. I’ll see where emotions are at next week.
“Comparative to anyone in any job; whether a sports writer, carpenter or plumber. Do you do x columns and stop – or x bathrooms and stop? For me there’s no rule book. It’s a job of work that I’m very fortunate to enjoy.”
Jones also revealed that the Wales Rugby Union did ask the welsh government for special dispensation for his family to attend but sadly, they were not allowed.
“The question was asked of the government under exceptional circumstances,” he says.
“In the grand scheme of things – with the country in lockdown – families are very understanding. It’s a shame but the ability to play the game is the overriding pleasing thing.
“It’s a privilege to carry the torch in these times. We need to put in a performance and put smiles on faces.”
Wales show six changes from that 38-21 friendly defeat in Paris with a debut handed to Cardiff Blues back-rower Shane Lewis-Hughes.
The 23-year-old gets his opportunity alongside Lions duo Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau after originally being called into Wayne Pivac’s squad as training cover.
Will Rowlands, fresh from playing in the Gallagher Premiership final with Wasps, makes his first start in the second row alongside skipper Jones.
Exeter prop Tomas Francis comes into the front-row alongside Rhys Carre and Ryan Elias.
In the backline, scrum-half Gareth Davies partners Dan Biggar, while Owen Watkin comes into the midfield alongside Jonathan Davies.
Liam Williams replaces the 96-times capped George North in the back three after recovering from a foot injury.
On the bench, Sam Parry, Wyn Jones and Dillon Lewis provide the front-row replacements with Cory Hill and James Davies completing the forward contingent.
Lloyd Williams comes straight into the matchday squad and provides backline cover along with Rhys Patchell and Nick Tompkins.
Gloucester’s teenage wing Louis Rees-Zammit was ruled out with a slight knock.
Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies; 1 Rhys Carre, 2 Ryan Elias, 3 Tomas Francis, 4 Will Rowlands, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 6 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 7 Justin Tipuric, 8 Taulupe Faletau.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Cory Hill, 20 James Davies, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Nick Tompkins.