Coaches to way up options before naming skipper
RYAN Jones’ injury hasn’t just left the Wales coaching staff pondering who will don the number six jersey in the Six Nations title showdown with England, they also need to decide on a skipper.
When the blindside flanker trudged off at Murrayfield after breaking a bone in his right shoulder it was Sam Warburton who deputised on both counts, slotting in at six and leading the side.
Other captaincy options are loosehead Gethin Jenk-ins and lock Alun Wyn Jones, who has been backed for the role by former teammate Martyn Williams.
“I’d let Alun Wyn captain the side,” said the legendary openside. “It would take the pressure off Sam and just tell him to go out and cause chaos at the breakdown.”
It is a view at odds with his former back row colleague and 2005 Grand Slam-winning captain Michael Owen.
“I’d give the captaincy back to Sam,” said the ex-Newport Gwent Dragons number eight. “He has got a pretty amazing record and has proved that he is more than capable of combining it with world class performances.
“It might have made him even more hungry after seeing Ryan lead the side instead of him and there are so many leaders in the side anyway.
“I do think captaincy can affect your form, especially when results are not going your way. When Wales are losing Tests the scrutiny tends to be on two places – the fly-half and the captain.
“I believe that Sam was a victim of his own success but Wales have got back to winning ways and there is no reason not to make him captain again.”
And Owen would also give Jones’ number six jersey to Warburton, letting him form a mobile partnership with Justin Tipuric and Toby Faletau in the back row.
“Justin has been tremendous and I’d love to see both him and Sam start against England,” said Owen.
“England will be combative and tough but I think that a back row with two opensides would be such a threat to them.”
l Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde believes that stricken back row forward Ryan Jones will still influence Saturday’s proceedings, even though he will not feature.
“Ryan is a big loss but I only hope that some of the players have learnt from his example about how to go about their business,” said the former hooker.
“We saw in Scotland that it was pretty much a seamless transition when we unfortunately lost him and Sam Warburton took over the captaincy.
“Everyone has gained from having Ryan about and has taken a leaf out of his book. As long as we learn from some of the things he did throughout this campaign we should be okay.”