Rugby World Cup 2011
Jones a doubt for Boks clash
September 6, 2011
Stephen Jones could miss Wales' World Cup clash with South Africa © Getty Images
Wales assistant coach Rob Howley has admitted that Stephen Jones could miss Sunday's pivotal World Cup Pool D clash with South Africa.
Jones did not feature at all during his country's warm-up programme after being forced to withdraw from the starting line-up for their clash with England at Twickenham last month at the last minute with a calf injury.
It is still hoped that he could be fit enough to play some part in their tournament opener against the Springboks but Howley freely concedes that Jones' participation is far from certain.
"Steve has continued to do his rehab," he said. "He hasn't taken a full part in training as of yet, and hopefully he will take a full part probably tomorrow.
"At this moment, obviously there is a doubt. He hasn't played for a long period of time. We need to give Steve enough time to make sure he is right. We are giving him plenty of time."
Facing the world champions is a daunting opening assignment for the Welsh but Howley insists that the players are looking forward to the challenge.
"In a World Cup it is about winning and gaining momentum," he said. "All we are looking ahead at is the game on Sunday, which is so important to us.
"It's about making sure we play in the right areas. Some of our players have played against South Africa eight times over the last three or four years, including their Lions experiences in 2009. The players have learnt, and that is what Test match rugby is about."
Indeed, Wales team manager Alan Phillips believes that it is actually a positive for Warren Gatland's men to have the Boks up first.
"It is the right time for us to play them, but we will never lose sight of the fact that they are a formidable outfit," the former international hooker said. "The results have been close the last few times we have played them, and that is going to help our confidence."
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