Robin McBryde hails return of Wales prop Adam Jones
ROBIN McBryde has hailed the return of Ospreys prop Adam Jones as Wales look to use the pain of their disastrous autumn series to fuel their Six Nations title defence.
Jones has not played for Wales since June because of a knee injury, but the 31-year-old tight-head has been in formidable form since returning to full fitness with the Ospreys.
With Jones absent during the autumn, Wales lost all four of their Tests against Argentina, Samoa, New Zealand and Australia.
But the cornerstone of their scrum is back to the peak of his powers and, with Wales's Six Nations opener at home to Ireland on February 2 fast approaching, their forwards coach McBryde is delighted to see Jones return.
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"Adam has proven in his last few games for the Ospreys how big a weapon the scrum can become when he is playing tight-head," he said.
"He's played a pivotal role in their recent results. He's in good shape, getting around the field and putting the work in.
"It's a boost for everybody. The players around him really value his contribution. He's a big player for us."
Wales's four autumn defeats stretched their current winless run to seven matches and saw them tumble to ninth place in the world rankings, but McBryde has urged the players to use that disappointment as inspiration for the Six Nations.
"We've got to take the hurt and the pain from those summer losses to Australia and how close they were, as well as the autumn, and we've got to come out fighting," he said.
"We're all in this together and looking to get off to a positive start against Ireland. There is pressure — it's international rugby and you have to get off to a flyer.
"The first game really dictates the rest of the competition, but we are not looking any further than the Irish game. It will be a huge test for us.
"In the Six Nations the weight of expectation is on everybody, especially for the first game."
Meanwhile, Wales are still waiting to hear whether the Ospreys' forward trio of Ryan Jones, Ian Evans and Richard Hibbard will be fit in time to face Ireland.
Jones has a dislocated thumb, while Evans is nursing a longer-term knee injury and Hibbard is managing a knock to his shoulder.
"We are going to have to play the waiting game this week and then, next week, we're going to have to make some calls about the team," said McBryde.
"It depends on the physiotherapists' frame of mind whether our glass is half full or half empty. At the moment the glass is half full."