Alun Wyn Jones made his Wales debut in 2006 against Argentina

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones says he thinks of winning the World Cup on almost a daily basis.

Wales fly to Japan on Wednesday for the global tournament, where the Grand Slam winners will be among the favourites to lift the trophy.

And Jones admits winning the World Cup is one of his last remaining goals.

“Do I think about these things daily? Not far off. I am on the cusp of potentially my last chance of it, so here we go,” said Jones.

The 33-year-old is set to become Wales’ most-capped player during the competition, as he currently stands just one appearance behind Gethin Jenkins’ mark of 129 Tests.

Jones has also played nine British and Irish Lions Tests to take his current international tally to 137 and is preparing for a fourth World Cup.

The Ospreys lock was central to Wales’ record 14-game unbeaten run set between March last year and this summer, during which they were crowned Six Nations champions.

It has been a glittering career already for Jones with four Six Nations titles and three Grand Slams with Wales and a Lions series win in Australia in 2013 and a drawn three-match campaign with New Zealand four years later.

Jones says the thought of challenging for World Cup glory remains a driving force.

“I dreamt to play for Wales and if you do that you want to win a Grand Slam,” Jones said.

“You win a Grand Slam, what’s the next best thing? I have not won a [European] Champions Cup, I have not won a World Cup.

“In the 2011 World Cup we got to a semi-final, and on another night we get to the final and what happened will go down in the annals.

“In 2015 everybody talks about us beating England. but we go on to facing Australia and them being down to 13 men and we don’t capitalise.

“You remember all those things and moments, and I have had a bit of everything with my experiences.”

Alun Wyn Jones has signed a new deal with Ospreys and the Welsh Rugby Union until 2021

Jones hopes Asia’s first World Cup can be remembered for rugby reasons rather than any refereeing red card decisions.

“If you are getting into rugby, or a neutral, it is mouth-watering,” he added.

“To have such a potentially open World Cup in such an exciting country, which is going to put on a hell of show by all accounts, is going to be great for the game.

“I just fear potentially this summer the way decisions have gone on the field with certain things, it is becoming increasingly difficult for referees.

“I hope that does not overshadow the rugby and that sort of stuff. They seem to have got their act in order, which seems to bode well for the competition.”

Wales World Cup fixtures – Pool D
Mon, 23 Sept: Wales v Georgia, City of Toyota Stadium, Toyota City (11:15 BST)
Sun, 29 Sept: Wales v Australia, Toyota Stadium, Tokyo (08:45 BST)
Wed, 9 Oct: Wales v Fiji, Oita Stadium, Oita (10:45 BST)
Sun, 13 Oct: Wales v Uruguay, Kumamoto Prefectural Athletic Stadium, Kumamoto City (09:15 BST)

Asked if the Wales squad had talked about issues such as red cards, Jones said: “No we haven’t, but I feel it is worth mentioning because it is potentially going to be such an open tournament and you would not want that to be a talking point.

“You want rugby, the competition and Japan to be the talking points, nothing else.

“I am not trying to set the cat among the pigeons in that regard, but I think that should be the focus and not ‘should have, would have, could have’ with some decisions that can influence games.”

Despite three defeats in four warm-up games and the loss of Gareth Anscombe and Taulupe Faletau to injury, many pundits feel Wales’ group for Warren Gatland’s final tournament in charge is their best-assembled World Cup squad.

“Whether it is the best, I don’t know, and the jury will be out until we see the results,” Jones said.

“From a balance point of view and age profiles, along with performances, it is an exciting squad with a lot of potential.

“We are going to be judged this year on what we do in this competition.”

Alun Wyn Jones is the only Wales player in the 2019 World Cup squad who has had another national coach other than Warren Gatland

Jones insists there will be no sentiment from the departing Gatland and his coaching staff, who leave after the World Cup.

Since Gatland took charge of his first match in 2008, Wales have won four Six Nations Championships, three of which were Grand Slams.

“His legacy in Wales is stone-cast,” said Jones. “If you look at the numbers and chronology it is impressive.

“It is not a swansong by any stretch of the imagination and it can be easy to be swept away with the romanticism from their side.

“There is still a job to do and I am sure they would like to be back at the stadium with a big shiny thing in a few months.”

Can’t see this selector? Visit this page: Pick your Wales XV to play Georgia

All pictures via Huw Evans Images.


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