Wales v Ireland, Six Nations, Millennium Stadium, March 12
James confident in Welsh scrum
ESPNscrum Staff
March 10, 2011
Paul James is hoping for an improvement for Wales at the scrum this weekend © Getty Images

Wales prop Paul James is hoping to stay on the right side of South African referee Jonathan Kaplan in their vital Six Nations clash with Ireland in Cardiff on Saturday.

The Welsh scrum was heavily penalised in their victory over Italy two weeks ago and James wants a fair crack of the whip this time around as they take aim at an Irish scrum that has been showing signs of improvement in recent outings.

"The referee was making decisions, that's the way the game goes," he said. "Hopefully this weekend he'll ref the scrum well and there won't be as many penalties.

"We've had a little look at Kaplan as well, he's one of the best refs out there and he tends to ref the scrummage area quite fairly so we're just looking forward to playing now and having a couple less penalties this week."

Alongside tight-head Craig Mitchell, his team-mate at the Ospreys, James has emerged as a major positive for Wales in this year's Championship, ably deputising for the injured Gethin Jenkins and providing reassuring strength in depth prior to September's Rugby World Cup.

"I think it's gone very well so far," James said. "We've been happy with our performances up to date and are looking forward to the next challenge now, against Ireland. We've had a look at them and in fairness to them they've done very well so far this campaign, up front and especially their front-row. Myself, Craig and Matthew [Rees] are very much looking forward to the challenge.

"I thought we did alright against Italy. There were a couple of scrums where we might have been under a little bit of pressure but then on the other hand we had Italy under pressure on a couple of scrums. It was a bit of a mixed bag but I think we came out of it alright."

James made his return to the Test arena as an emergency tight-head in November 2009, just over six years after winning his one previous cap against Romania in Wrexham. Since then he has become an integral part of the squad in a position that Wales have struggled to maintain in recent seasons. While he would not admit it, his name looks set to be part of the international game for some time to come

"Hopefully I have [secured my place in the squad]," he said. "That's down to the coaches but so far I've been happy to have been in the squad for the last two seasons. You've just got to take your opportunities as they come."

Paul James returned to Skewen RFC as part of a Welsh team appearance to support community rugby programme RBS RugbyForce, improving club facilities across the nation. To register your rugby club for the RBS RugbyForce Weekend on 11 & 12 June, click here.

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