TOKYO (Reuters) – Alun Wyn Jones said a bit of blood spilled in training was no bad thing for a team after being named to captain an unchanged Wales side for the Rugby World Cup clash against Australia on Sunday, when he will win his record 130th cap for his country.
The lock will become the most-capped player for Wales at Tokyo Stadium and, with the addition of his nine British and Irish Lions test caps, will also join Australia’s George Gregan in fourth place on the list for all countries.
Jones said the consistency of naming the same line-up that started the 43-14 win over Georgia on Monday augured well for the Six Nations champions, as did a bit of testiness in this week’s sessions in the Welsh camp.
“We’ve trained really well this week,” Jones told reporters on Friday.
“There’s been a few guys frustrated with selection, which I think is a good thing, that breeds competitiveness within the squad.
“There was a bit of red stuff flowing yesterday, which was all well meant because it was for the betterment of the team.”
Coach Warren Gatland hailed Jones’s achievement in bettering the record of 129 caps held by Gethin Jenkins and joked that it was only since assuming the captaincy that he had stopped being at the centre of the odd fracas in training.
“He’s a great competitor,” the New Zealander said.
“Since he’s been captain, we’ve don’t have as many fights at training, because he used to start most of them.
“Because that’s how competitive he is. People who get to the top have a desire and a drive to be successful get to the top and he’s definitely done that.
“To become Wales’s top test player with 130 caps is pretty special … and hopefully there’s many more to come. We’re very lucky to have him in the team and captaining the side.”
There was only one change to the Welsh matchday 23 with Owen Watkin coming in for veteran fullback Leigh Halfpenny as cover for centre Hadleigh Parkes, who fractured a finger against the Georgians.
Gatland said they had discussed bringing Ross Moriarty into the back row at the expense of Aaron Wainwright but he felt the young flanker deserved to remain in the side.
“It is a big test for us and for him, he was only 22 the other day,” he said.
“He’s got a massive amount of potential. He’s been very effective for us coming off the bench as the game breaks up a bit and giving us an impact. We just felt he deserved that opportunity after that first game.”
Team: 15-Liam Williams, 14-George North, 13-Jonathan Davies, 12-Hadleigh Parkes, 11-Josh Adams, 10-Dan Biggar, 9-Gareth Davies, 8-Josh Navidi, 7-Justin Tipuric, 6- Aaron Wainwright, 5-Alun Wyn Jones, 4-Jake Ball, 3-Tomas Francis, 2-Ken Owens, 1-Wyn Jones
Replacements: 16-Elliot Dee, 17-Nicky Smith, 18-Dillon Lewis, 19-Aaron Shingler, 20-Ross Moriarty, 21-Tomos Williams, 22-Rhys Patchell, 23-Owen Watkin.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)