Wales duo's places under threat

Date published: February 6 2013

Wales stalwarts Sam Warburton and Gethin Jenkins' starting places are under threat for Saturday's clash with France in Paris.

Wales stalwarts Sam Warburton and Gethin Jenkins are under pressure to retain their starting places for Saturday's clash with France in Paris.

That is the word from Wales assistant coach Mark Jones who admitted that deciding on the duo's fate would not be an easy decision.

Captain Warburton's role as openside flanker is being challenged by Justin Tipuric while Paul James is putting pressure on Jenkins for his position in the front row.

“Yes, they're under pressure,” said Jones.

“Pressure is part of this sport, part of your job.

“You are playing international rugby – I've been there myself. When you don't play as well as you can, you come under pressure because there are good individuals underneath you who want that jersey.

“Those are the things we will be kicking around over the next couple of days. Do we give the players an opportunity to go out and redeem themselves, or do we try and freshen things up and bring some fresh blood in?

“Coaches have got to make decisions. They are not easy ones, to be honest with you.

“Player selection is down to form and injury. Ours for the first game was predominately around who we had available.

“In top-level sport there's not much in it, it's about getting the last two or three per cent right on the day and, if you do that, more often than not you will come out on the winning side.

“So we are focusing on that, making sure we execute what is in our control. Results are not great but I don't think we are far away. It's important we understand why we have lost.”

Jones blamed last weekend's 30-22 loss to Ireland in Cardiff on Wales' inability to win the battle at the breakdown and their failure to neutralise the visitors' choke tackle.

“I think that's hitting the nail on the head,” said Jones.

“We knew what was coming. It wasn't a case that Ireland caught us out with the choke tackle.

“We were aware of it and we trained for it.

“Unfortunately, they executed the choke tackle better than we executed the prevention of it.

“In the second half, I thought people like Ken Owens and even Andrew Coombs had the type of footwork and body-height when they were ball-carrying that really made it difficult for Ireland to get that hold-up tackle going, because you commit a lot of numbers to the choke tackle.”