Jones makes Irish ‘favourites’

Wales skipper Ryan Jones has installed Ireland as pre-match favourites ahead of this weekend's RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam decider at the Millennium Stadium. [more]

Jones makes Irish ‘favourites’

Wales skipper Ryan Jones has installed Ireland as pre-match favourites ahead of this weekend’s RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam decider at the Millennium Stadium.

Brian O’Driscoll’s men head to the Welsh capital seeking their first Slam in 61 years, and chasing their first championship in 24 years, after winning their first four matches. 

Wales were Grand Slam champions last season, but lost in France and must beat the Irish by 13 points to retain their title and hold onto the Triple Crown. 

“Ireland will come here with the favourites tag and with that there is a pressure and burden to bear,” said Jones. 

“But with the experience of the players they have got at both club and international level, they should be able to deal with it. 

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“I don’t think that should be an issue for them. I’m sure the likes of the Munster boys will treat this game as just another game. 

“We will both try to win the game but it’s just about who gets it right on the day. The game won’t be pretty because there’s too much at stake – it will be extremely physical and the kicking game is going to be massive. 

“Ronan O’Gara is a world-class No10 and we all know his strengths and weaknesses. He controls the game for Munster week-in-week-out and we’ve got to make sure we win the kicking game. 

“Defences are so strong today that there won’t be many tries, but if we play rugby in the right areas and win the territorial battle, we can win the match.” 

The stakes are high for both teams and many players on the field, not least Jones and his rival captain O’Driscoll. With Lions head coach Ian McGeechan seeking the right man to lead his squad to South Africa this summer both men are in the frame. 

O’Driscoll led the Lions to New Zealand in 2005, while Jones took over the Welsh captaincy at the start of last season’s Grand Slam campaign. The Welshman is currently six from seven in the 6 Nations as captain and also led his team to victory over Australia in the autumn.

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