Ryan Jones urges Wales to take its chances
Updated: September 10, 2011, 01:00
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WELLINGTON, New Zealand(AP) Wales veteran Ryan Jones has set aside concerns about his possible exclusion from a third Rugby World Cup to deliver an impassioned message to his teammates on the eve of their opening match against South Africa.
Presenting them with his own example, his missed selection for the 2003 World Cup, his withdrawal from the 2007 tournament with a shoulder injury and his current predicament - a calf injury may force him to leave the World Cup without playing a match - he appealed to his teammates to cherish their opportunities.
Wales forward coach Robin McBryde told reporters on Saturday that Jones' selfless and emotional message was likely to fortify the Welsh team as it faced one of its toughest World Cup matches.
"There's no second chances,'' McBryde said. "Ryan Jones spoke to the group this morning and he's not sure if he's even going to be able to take part in the World Cup and he spoke of just taking your chances when they do come and just making the most of your opportunities.
"And that's the key message for the players. As much as we're playing against the reigning world champions, we have to go out there and give it our best shot.''
Wales will not make a decision on Jones' future at the tournament until after Sunday's match, waiting first to see whether the squad sustains any further injuries which would color that decision.
Jones may be two weeks away from fitness, which rules him out of Wales' early pool matches. But the Welsh are likely to be cautious because once the veteran backrower has been replaced in the squad, he cannot be recalled if he overcomes his injury.
"Obviously (he's disappointed) with his history, he's missed out on the last World Cup as well,'' McBryde said. "Realistically, the medical staff are telling us he could be fit if all goes well for the Fiji match (on Oct. 2). In which case, if he does improve, there are bigger things out there for him.
"We'll wait and see until after tomorrow's game how we are injury-wise. So he does sound, at this stage, a realistic chance of taking part in the World Cup.''
McBryde said Jones remained an important member for the Welsh team, lending teammates the benefit of his experience.
"For a man of his experience when he spoke to the group this morning, he spoke pretty well,'' he said. "The others are trying to put their arm around him and keep him going. If anyone has shown their true colors in this Welsh team, then it's Ryan Jones.
"Look at the Six Nations, not being selected in his true position but coming out on top and being one of the best performers of that tournament. He's showed true grit and if we can take a leaf out of his book we won't be far away tomorrow night.''