‘Wales are lucky that I have a sup­port­ive wife’

Stephen Jones prom­ises he is bed­ding in quickly af­ter re­plac­ing coach Rob How­ley at 11th hour ‘It was a bit of a shock. And it’s been manic if I’m hon­est’

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby World Cup -

in Tokyo

Jones ar­rived only a week ago, with his in­flu­ence on early tac­tics limited as a re­sult. Dan Big­gar and Jonathan Davies, the two se­nior backs, played a ma­jor role in the plan­ning to face Ge­or­gia, when Wales raced into a 29-0 half-time lead hav­ing scored four tries.

But Jones has cer­tainly been a wel­come pres­ence in camp. Wing Josh Adams, one of the six Wales tryscor­ers, de­scribed the ar­rival of Jones as seam­less.

“Ob­vi­ously, there is a won­der­ful foun­da­tion in place. There are a lot of good things in the li­brary al­ready,” Jones adds, re­fer­ring to the work done by How­ley. The pair have not spo­ken since he was sent home for an al­leged breach of bet­ting reg­u­la­tions.

“I have worked with a num­ber of the play­ers and man­age­ment be­fore. The se­nior play­ers were ex­cel­lent – they took the helm and took the lead – which was great.

“I was happy [with the Ge­or­gia per­for­mance]. I thought some of the run­ning lines were good, our ball move­ment was de­cent. But I would say the good thing for us is there is plenty to work on, which is the ex­cit­ing part.

“Gats [head coach War­ren Gat­land] has been ex­cel­lent and said I can evolve things slowly, but ob­vi­ously I am con­scious there is go­ing to be limited grass time, but where I am for­tu­nate is that there are so many good things in place.”

Tempt­ing as it must have been to start im­ple­ment­ing the new strate­gies, Jones has re­sisted them.

“Def­i­nitely not. We have caught up as a man­age­ment group, Wayne [Pi­vac], my­self, By­ron [Hay­ward] and Jonathan [Humphreys]. We have had dis­cus­sions about cer­tain things but what’s been fas­ci­nat­ing, and won­der­ful for me and hugely ben­e­fi­cial, is that I’ve been in this en­vi­ron­ment and learnt so much, so it will make the tran­si­tion a lot eas­ier.”

Wales will cer­tainly need all hands to the pump if they are to see off Aus­tralia on Sun­day at Tokyo Sta­dium, the stand­out fix­ture in the tour­na­ment’s sec­ond week.

Only last Novem­ber did Wales fi­nally end their hoodoo against the Wal­la­bies, end­ing a run of 13 straight de­feats dat­ing back to 2008, a vic­tory that Jones ac­tu­ally played in him­self, scor­ing 11 points. That re­sult will do won­ders for con­fi­dence this week.

“It’s fan­tas­tic, isn’t it? Last time out, Wales were suc­cess­ful against Aus­tralia. It will be a mas­sive oc­ca­sion and it’s the one as play­ers and coaches that you love, big sport­ing mo­ments.

“Aus­tralia have lots of tal­ented play­ers. But I look at it from our per­spec­tive and our boys will be look­ing for­ward to that chal­lenge of go­ing up against those boys. We have got some won­der­ful play­ers re­gard­ing skill-sets, ath­letic abil­ity, work rate off the ball. It’s ex­cit­ing from our end.”

The school-run du­ties will have to wait for a few weeks. Per­haps even un­til Novem­ber, af­ter the World Cup fi­nal, pro­vid­ing Wales find a way past Aus­tralia. “We have some things to evolve quickly and im­prove, which is great and that’s ex­cit­ing part,” ad­mits Jones. There is more to come.

Fit­ting right in: Stephen Jones (left) be­lieves his fa­mil­iar­ity with the play­ers and War­ren Gat­land’s man­age­ment team has helped

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