Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones says he has had “a pretty seamless” recovery from injury ahead of his comeback in Sunday’s Six Nations clash against Ireland.
Jones will make his first appearance in Wales or Ospreys colours since suffering a knee injury during the Autumn Nations Cup victory over Italy nine weeks ago.
He goes straight back into Test match action with Wales targeting a strong start to their Six Nations campaign following last year’s poor fifth-placed finish and an overall run of just three wins in 10 games.
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“I had a good recovery and touch wood, it has been pretty seamless in terms of its progression and the staged return,” Jones said.
“I was fully prepared to play in the Connacht game [for the Ospreys]. I’ve been fortunate enough to get the nod for the game on Sunday.
“I have been a bit frustrated, really, because it was a similar period for me post-World Cup in 2019.
“This one [injury] was just someone falling on me. It has been a bit more frustrating, but I am relishing the chance to get back into it properly.”
Jones makes his 153rd appearance for Wales and the British and Irish Lions this weekend – an ongoing world record – and he leads a record-breaking team.
With a total of 874 caps, it is the most experienced Wales line-up fielded in international rugby union history.
Nine of the side have featured more than 50 times for their country and the back-row of Dan Lydiate, Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau contains a mammoth 225 caps.
Reflecting on 2020, Jones added: “The disappointing thing was how we started the Autumn Nations Cup.
“We’ve spoken a lot about the opportunity that was given and in patches it came together, but the results didn’t follow.
“Wayne [Wales head coach Wayne Pivac] has been candid that this is the Six Nations and it’s tournament rugby.
“We can’t say we didn’t know it was coming or it was organised late because of Covid. We knew it was coming and we’ve prepared that way.”
Wales have lost their last four games against Ireland, including two defeats last year when they were brushed aside 24-14 and 32-9.
A comprehensive Nations Cup reversal in Dublin three months ago saw an error-strewn Wales performance punished for poor discipline.
Jones said: “Those are the obvious things [discipline and errors], but it is general consistency across all facets of our play.
“You can win games and list off a lot of things, but ultimately it’s consistency in those key areas which allows everything to flow from there.
“Likewise, the set-piece. If we don’t bring pressure on ourselves, then it helps our attack.
“We were successful the last time we played them at the stadium [Principality Stadium], and it’s the Six Nations now. Hopefully. they can see the best of us.”
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