Jones has Gatland's full support
October 27, 2009
Ryan Jones' form was a cause for concern for Wales boss Warren Gatland last season © Getty Images
Wales head coach Warren Gatland has thrown his full support behind captain Ryan Jones ahead of the autumn internationals.
There had been speculation that Jones might not be retained as skipper for the upcoming clashes with New Zealand, Samoa, Argentina and Australia as Gatland no longer considered the versatile Ospreys back-row a certain starter in his strongest line-up.
However, while admitting that Jones' form had been a cause for concern for him last term, Gatland now believes that his captain is almost back to his very best.
"I've always said we are very happy with Ryan; he has done a good job since he's been captain," the New Zealander said. "But the bottom line is when you pick a captain you want a player who is good enough to make the starting XV. Loose forward is a position we've had some players performing well.
"But I've been very happy with the way Ryan has captained the team over the last few years - he has developed well and I thought his performances in the two recent European Cup games (for the Ospreys) were a couple of his best.
"And I thought he performed well against Glasgow (in the Magners League). He carried really well up there, and we think he is coming back into some form and that is good to see."
Wales host the All Blacks in Cardiff on November 7 and Gatland is relishing the challenge of trying to topple his compatriots after seeing his side rattle the Kiwis at the same venue 12 months ago before eventually slumping to a 29-9 defeat.
"For us, it's trying to really build on the confidence gained from the first 40-50 minutes against them last year," he said. "We could quite easily have gone 16-3 up at half-time in that game.
"It provides belief and confidence that when we do perform at our optimum, we are capable of pushing them and putting them under pressure. They are always difficult to play against, but you have got to go in there believing that if we do perform, we've got a chance of winning."