Prop idol Jones crucial to Wales – Thomas
FRANCE v WALES (Saturday, KO 5pm)
THE return of “world class” Adam Jones has been hailed by Rhys Thomas who is tipping his ex-Scar-lets teammate Sam-son Lee as the great tighthead’s successor.
Three-times Grand Slam winner Jones was back in international action last week after missing the autumn series whitewash with a knee injury.
Although the Ospreys prop didn’t enjoy his finest game in the 30-22 defeat to Ireland, he’ll want to be back to his best this weekend.
Jones has a wealth of experience and is due to win his 85th cap against a tough French front row in Paris on Saturday.
Thomas, a former New-port Gwent Dragons favourite and a 2008 Grand Slam winning tighthead, believes the 31-year-old’s presence is so important to Wales’ hopes.
“Adam makes a huge difference to the team and it seems over the last year or so we’ve seen more and more the importance of having a world class tighthead,” he said.
“You can tell that when Wales have been struggling – it is pretty obvious when he is not playing. But it’s a tough position and Adam’s not going to be around forever.”
Thomas, who was forced to retire from the game last year after suffering a near fatal heart attack, thinks highly of up-and-coming Lee, 20.
“I think we’ve got to give some of our youngsters a chance as well and show a bit of faith,” he said. “I’m a big fan of Samson Lee – I think he’s got a big future.
“He was at the Scarlets academy when I was down there and he’s a very interesting character and he’s a very raw talent and a really nice guy.
“He’s keen to learn and he’s got all the right assets. He’s strong and technically he’s good as well.”
Thomas, who won seven caps for Wales between 2006 and 2009, added: “I think with the right tutoring he could be the next Adam so to speak. Samson’s a good guy and a tough kid – he can handle himself.”
Lee has not been included in Wales’ Six Nations squad but was called up last autumn.
He was on the bench for the 12-9 defeat to Australia in December but didn’t get on the field.