Alun Wyn Jones: Heineken Cup Ambition And Looking Towards The Six Nations

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Alun Wyn Jones: Heineken Cup Ambition And Looking Towards The Six Nations

Well, the good news is that, all being well, I might just be available for selection by early to mid February after missing the last eight weeks due to my injury sustained against Argentina in November.

 

People are talking about the possibility of me making the second half of the Six Nations with Wales but I cannot afford to think any further than trying to get into the Ospreys team. If course I’d be delighted to be back playing for my country but, as every rugby player knows, you are selected for test rugby on the back of your club rugby, so first things first. Also, I am very mindful of the fact that I was injured playing for Wales, not the Ospreys, but the Ospreys have not had my services for the last four Heineken Cup matches for the second year running. I feel I am in debt to my club and am keen to repay them.

 

All I could do on Sunday was sit helpless in the stands and watch as the Ospreys and the Leicester Tigers slugged it out for an honourable draw, enough to give the Tigers a chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup if they beat Toulouse next week, but not for us who once again fall short in Europe’s top competition.

 

That’s pretty tough to take considering that we beat Toulouse at home, were leading Leicester at Welford Road as the game went into the final quarter and had the upper hand over the Tigers again for much of Sunday’s clash at the Liberty Stadium. The margins, as always, remain tight.

 

What makes it harder to bear is the knowledge that teams who emerge from a group as tough as ours tend to be battle-hardened for the knockout stages. It’s certainly been one of the toughest groups in this season’s competition – if not the toughest – but either Leicester or Toulouse will be the better for it.

 

As for me it’s another season passed without European success. I’ve been very lucky to have ticked a lot of career boxes with the Ospreys and Wales , but I’m desperate to enjoy a successful Heineken Cup campaign. We have the talent and the belief at the Ospreys. After all, we are the defending RaboDirect Pro12 champions. Let’s just hope that it will all come together next season.

 

As for the Six Nations Wales, despite being Grand Slam champions, will enter the tournament as underdogs based on events in the autumn internationals. This may suit us down to the ground. After what they did against the All Blacks all the pressure will be on England who face a Scotland team coming to Twickenham for the Calcutta Cup having lost their coach and on the back of a string of bad results themselves. How much more motivation will they need? I think Scotland could be dangerous in this tournament. It goes without saying that France will be looking to win the title again, as will England, while Italy are giving everyone a good game.

 

This leaves us with Ireland , whose first game is at the Millennium Stadium. I’d say the Irish are more than capable of winning the Six Nations as well. Anyone who saw them demolish Argentina in November would agree, but first they need to get past us. I couldn’t think of a better start to the Six Nations than playing Ireland in Cardiff . It should be a great game and a massive win for the victors to set them on their way.

 

As for me the rehab continues to go well, although I’m determined not to rush it and then have a setback. Apart from a cultural evening with my other half the other night to the cinema to see Les Miserables the only other thing I’ve been up to is learning to play the ukulele. Yes, the ukulele. My Mum bought me one for Christmas and although it looks a bit comedic to see a 6ft 6in rugby player strumming a musical instrument under two feet long I’m really getting into it.

 

Sportsvibe fans should not get too excited. I won’t be performing for you any time soon, but it’s helped to fill the hours which for an injured player can be hard to bear. Hopefully by next month I’ll be both playing rugby and my ukulele well. Will keep you posted on both!!

 

By Alun Wyn Jones