Williams nominates Jones for winning role

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The Independent Online
The former Wales captain, JPR Williams, predicted that Robert Jones could celebrate joining him in the half-century cap club by wrecking England's Grand Slam hopes.

Williams believes that the Five Nations clash with England will be the perfect stage for the scrum-half who will become only the third Welshman to win 50 caps. Jones will follow his legendary predecessor, Gareth Edwards, who won 53 caps, and the record-holder Williams, who played 55 times for his country.

"It is a remarkable achievement by Robert," said the former full-back of Jones, who was recalled for last month's match in Paris. Williams, now a selection adviser, added: "It is an achievement, particularly because he has been in and out of the side for several years.

"Robert played on a number of losing sides and paid the penalty for Welsh rugby's lean years but it is a tribute to his dedication and commitment that he keeps coming back.

"Robert has the tremendous asset of a very quick pass and the stage is certainly there for him with England the opponents for his 50th cap. He could be a key figure."

Jones would have smashed the record well before now had he not been the victim of the selectors' desire for the scrum-half to act as an additional forward. His appearance against France was only his second in 20 games.

But, after deposing Rupert Moon, he could finally break the record in Wales' World Cup quarter-final in South Africa - provided they reach that stage and the Swansea player keeps his place.

Williams, however, believes that the captain and wing Ieuan Evans - steaming towards the half-century mark by winning his 49th cap tomorrow - could be the man who sets the new standard.

"It is difficult to say who will break it, but it will probably be Ieuan. If he is fit, then he is certain to be in any Welsh side, but Robert might not play in all the group games in South Africa.

"It does not bother me that the record will go because they are there to be broken."

Williams believes Wales must stop England's rampaging back-row trio if they are to stand any chance of recording yet another Cardiff victory. "England have been made odds-on favourites, but I think it is going to be very tight," he said. "With the conditions tomorrow you won't see the ball being flung out wide early on.

Evans, who yesterday entered the psychological war by raising the spectre of England's miserable record in Cardiff, pumped up his players further today.

The Llanelli wing, returning to the side after his traumatic ankle injury, hit out at Wales' role as outsiders, reminding the squad it is Wales who are the defending Five Nations champions.

"People should remember that we are the champions and that we played some superb rugby last season," he said.

"It's getting a bit annoying to be written off. We have beaten England in these circumstances before and we can do so again.