Wales 'won't shy away from pressure' vows skipper Jones

·2-min read
Under pressure - Alun Wyn Jones will hope to lead Wales to their first win in six Tests when they face Ireland
Under pressure - Alun Wyn Jones will hope to lead Wales to their first win in six Tests when they face Ireland

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones insisted Thursday that his side are well aware of what's at stake as they bid to end a losing streak in their Autumn Nations Cup opener against Ireland.

The Welsh will help kick-off the new tournament in Dublin on Friday on a run of five straight defeats.

That sequence include last month's Six Nations defeat by Scotland in Llanelli -- their first loss on home soil to the Scots in 18 years.

The fall-out from that match saw Wales defence coach Byron Hayward leave his post this week.

Wales coach Wayne Pivac has overseen just two wins -- against the Barbarians and perennial Six Nations strugglers Italy -- since he succeeded fellow New Zealander Warren Gatland following last year's World Cup.

Defeat at Landsdowne Road would condemn Wales to their worst run of results since 2012, and skipper Jones saying Thursday: "As a playing group, we won't shy away from the pressure.

"I have been in this position a couple of times before, and the margins are finite," added Jones, now set to extend his Test appearance world record to 150 caps after surpassing New Zealand great Richie McCaw against Scotland.

"We are very clear in the effort and the plan we have to put it right," he added.

Hayward's exit has intensified the focus on Pivac but veteran lock Jones said: "The onus is always on the players. It's always on us, and I don't think that changes.

"We are definitely aware of what we need to shore up, and I would like to think there would be a reaction."

Pivac resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes, with the only alteration to the starting XV that played Scotland the return of flanker Justin Tipuric, who missed the match because of tonsillitis.

Meanwhile Wales wing George North will become the youngest player in rugby union history, at 28 years and 214 days, to make 100 Test appearances (97 for Wales, three for the Lions) if he comes off the bench.

Friday is 10 years to the day since North marked his Wales debut by scoring two tries in a 29-25 home loss to South Africa.

Jones added: "It's a pretty special feat in the game that is rugby union. Hopefully, he will get on and do that honour proud with a good performance."

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