Alun Wyn Jones has no doubt in his mind that he will be ready for Wales’ opening Guinness Six Nations fixture against Ireland, according to Ospreys head coach Toby Booth.
The 35-year-old Wales skipper has not played since his country’s Autumn Nations Cup match against Italy on December 5 after sustaining a knee injury.
But Ospreys boss Booth says Jones, who has won 143 caps for Wales, has been making “great progress” and is “very confident” of being involved in his country’s Championship opener.
Jones became the world’s most-capped rugby union player last year and is currently on 152 international caps, including his nine British & Irish Lions caps from three tours.
He was named Guinness Six Nations Player of the Championship in 2019 after guiding Wales to the Grand Slam and Booth believes Jones’ experience will only aid his recovery.
“If you ask Alun, he’ll be playing in the first [Guinness Six Nations] game,” Booth said.
“He’s very confident he can be involved. He’s got a lot of historical training in him so the transition back into playing is easier if you’re of that mindset and got that bank of experience.
“But the thing he prides himself on is his physical performance, so between the relevant medical and S & C [strength and conditioning] departments, they’ll have that in mind.”
While Jones is making great strides in his recovery, the outlook is less rosy for Ospreys and Wales teammate Scott Williams after he suffered another setback.
Williams was forced off in the first quarter of his side’s New Year’s Day derby at Cardiff Blues with a shoulder problem, having been dogged by injuries over the past two years.
2021 Guinness Six Nations fixtures
“Scott Williams had a freak accident, a freak collision, and I think he’s fractured his scapula so that looks like it’ll be long term and count him out for a number of weeks,” Booth added.
Wales finished fifth in last year’s Guinness Six Nations – their first under Wayne Pivac – but they welcome Ireland to Cardiff in their opening game of the 2021 Championship.
That will be followed by a trip to Edinburgh to face Scotland in Round 2 before defending Guinness Six Nations champions England come to the Principality Stadium in the third round.
Their Championship then concludes with back-to-back away trips to Italy and France.