Wales to play for pride and history

(Rugby News Service) Thursday 20 October 2011
 
Wales to play for pride and history
Stephen Jones (R) will provide cover for James Hook (L) on Friday night

AUCKLAND, 20 Oct. - Try telling Stephen Jones that Wales's battle for third place with Australia on Friday night does not mean anything. You would be given short shrift.

After their heartbreaking semi-final exit at the hands of France, Wales could be forgiven for finding motivation for the Bronze Final at Eden Park hard to come by.

But Jones, who with 103 caps is the most decorated Welsh player, said the pride of pulling on the famous red jersey would prevent any complacency.

"We want to make sure we're successful and we want to finish third in this competition," Jones said.

"There are a lot of proud people in this squad and back home who want us to do well and we have to make sure that we perform.

"We're playing in a World Cup game, you're putting the Welsh jersey on and that's a massive honour. Whenever you put that jersey on you have a responsibility to it."

Forwards coach Robin McBryde admitted the squad was still feeling disappointment, but said the chance to equal Wales's best ever RWC finish would be a motivation. 

Heroes' welcome

Wales beat Australia 22-21 to secure third place at the first first World Cup in 1987, also in New Zealand.

"It's not the game we want to be in but let's make a good go of it," McBryde said.

"We're not taking the Australian team lightly. We know it's going to be a battle. It's a game that we need to win.

"We can create a bit of history away from home, so it's not all lost. But we'll look forward to getting that welcome home back in Wales after a win on Friday night."

Jones, who will turn 34 in December, has found himself out of the Wales starting line-up at RWC 2011 with Rhys Priestland and James Hook ahead in the pecking order.

However, Jones was non committal when asked about his future with the national team.

"I'm enjoying playing for Wales and being part of this fantastic squad," he said. 

"There's a great group of youngsters coming through and I'm enjoying it. If I get the opportunity to put the Welsh jersey on again that will be fantastic. 

"But I'm just enjoying my rugby and that's what counts for me at the moment."

RNS eg/sg