Stephen Jones targets complete performance from Wales

Header image
Wales assistant coach Stephen Jones is waiting on a “complete performance” from his side as they look to finish the 2022 Guinness Six Nations on a high.

Wales assistant coach Stephen Jones is waiting on a “complete performance” from his side as they look to finish the 2022 Guinness Six Nations on a high.

Currently sitting fifth going into the final round, Wales have scored just five tries in their first four games, far fewer than the 20 they registered across the Championship on their way to the title last year.

Attack coach Jones has challenged Wales to add to that tally against Italy on Saturday, in a game which will also mark Alun Wyn Jones’ 150th and Dan Biggar’s 100th Wales caps.

“We’ve played in patches,” said Jones.

“We were slow to get going, and gathered a good bit of momentum going into the England game.

“But we’re yet to have a complete performance.

“Would I have liked to have crossed with more tries at this point in the campaign? Yes is the answer to that.”

Biggar will skipper the side who could still rise to third in the final standings, if they produce a bonus-point victory and Scotland and England slip up in their tricky away fixtures.

He is expected to lead out the side alongside Alun Wyn Jones who is making his first international appearance since suffering a shoulder injury against New Zealand in October.

Stephen Jones said of the pair: “For both of them to share that wonderful experience on the same day is something they should be very proud of.

“We’ve just come off the training paddock now and Alun Wyn is moving around the pitch so well.

“In the position he plays as well, which is so physical and demanding. The manner in which he plays the game and the way he pushes his body.

“He is such a leader and important person in this group.”

As a former fly-half with 100 caps to his name, Stephen Jones is all too familiar with the pressure Biggar has faced throughout his career and was full of praise for the Northampton Saint.

He added: “You have to develop your mental resilience. You realise the responsibility that goes with that when you play for Wales.

“So much is asked of number 10s whether that be their decision making, how they manage the game, goal kicking. It’s a huge responsibility that goes with the jersey.

“It’s an incredible achievement for Dan, he’s worked so hard on his game. Every year he evolves his game and pushes standards in training, he’s driven, he’s a winner.

“He’s led the group this campaign and he’s been excellent.”

Saturday’s opponents Italy arrive in Cardiff off the back of a 33-22 defeat at home to Scotland.

But Jones insists that Wales are determined to finish strongly in front of an expectant Principality Stadium.

He added: “We’re playing against a side we have a huge amount of respect for, our selection reflects that.

“There’s a lot of opportunities for players to show their qualities and show what they’ve been working hard on in training.

“It’s a game we’re looking forward to that’s going to be played in the best stadium in the world.”