OITA – Stephen Jones might have been a late call-up to the Wales coaching squad but he has quickly got himself up to speed on one aspect of the job — revealing as little as possible to the media.
Jones took over as attack coach after Rob Howley was sent home on the eve of the tournament to face an investigation over betting and now finds himself preparing Wales to face France in Sunday’s quarterfinal.
He was the man tasked with facing the media on Tuesday at the team’s base outside Oita where Sunday’s game will take place and said the squad was “champing at the bit” for what he described as a special occasion.
When it came to his thoughts on the French, however, he kept his cards close to his chest.
“They’re a very physical outfit, wonderful athletes, but really we’re concentrating on getting our own house in order,” he said. “Our focus is on ourselves, it’s as simple as that.”
Jones said that flyhalf Dan Biggar and center Jonathan Davies, two of the side’s most important players, are back in training and are expected to be available having missed Sunday’s final pool game against Uruguay — when they were likely to have been rested anyway.
Davies looks to be getting the better of a knee injury sustained against Fiji, while Biggar is satisfying the medical team that he is not suffering from his collision with teammate Liam Williams in the same game — his second head injury of the tournament.
“Dan’s good to go, he’s training with us today, which is fantastic,” Jones said.
He added that he was “not too sure on the medical condition” of Davies, but said he had been taking part in training.
“From a coaching position, I’m just glad he’s back fit and healthy,” he said.
“The medical team have done a fantastic job on our players.”
Wales goes into the match having won seven of the teams’ eight meetings since the 2011 semifinal, when France triumphed 9-8.
“That is great but we know it’ll be a different challenge on Sunday,” Jones said when asked about the hot streak. “It’s a healthy rivalry and they are an opposition we respect.”
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5