Wed, 27 Jan 2021

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones has insisted his self-belief remains intact as the struggling hosts prepare for an Autumn Nations Cup match against an in-form England.

Saturday's match in Llanelli will kick off with Wales having won just one of their previous seven Tests - with that success against lowly Georgia.

By contrast, England will take the field at Parc Y Scarlets looking to extend a six-game winning streak.

That sequence saw England clinch the Six Nations title and they are now on the brink of qualifying for next week's Nations Cup final.

But Jones, who recently became the world's most-capped international, urged his injury-hit side not to be daunted by England's multiple threats.

"Belief is an interesting word," he told reporters on Friday.

"I always have belief. We know our deficiencies and what we need to improve. We know what's coming but we have to focus on ourselves," added the lock, a veteran of 150 Tests, nine of which came representing the British and Irish Lions.

"We know the threat they pose and what they are going to bring, but you can focus too much on your opposition."

The 35-year-old said the fundamentals when it came to beating England were no different to any other game that Wales played.

"It's pretty basic rugby things. Discipline, keep the ball and score more points than the opposition," he said.

'Circus'

"Obviously, there is the added sideshow and circus of Wales-England, but we are in a different context of a competition."

Jones, however, was well aware of the threat posed by England after last year's losing Word Cup finalists recently wrapped up the Six Nations title following international rugby union's Covid-enforced break.

"They (England) have carried on in a similar vein to where they left off back in February and March," he said. "We know the threat and intensity they will bring.

"The strength in depth they have in a lot of positions is clear to see, and the consistency they have."

Wales coach Wayne Pivac, partly through injury, will field a side featuring several inexperienced players on Saturday with the likes of 19-year-old Gloucester wing Louis Rees-Zammit, Scarlets centre Johnny Williams and Cardiff Blues flankers Shane Lewis-Hughes and James Botham currently having just six caps between them.

But Pivac believes facing England will be invaluable for his novices as Wales try to increase their squad depth ahead of next year's Six Nations and the 2023 World Cup in France.

"I think you are seeing opportunities now for these young guys, and it's now up to them to take these opportunities," the New Zealander said.

"We will ask questions in these (next two games) and we will get some answers. The Six Nations won't be about opportunities, it will be about who has got form at the time."

Source: News24

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