CHRIS KIRWAN: It's far too early to be writing off Adam Jones
10:00am Thursday 19th June 2014 in Sport
I DON'T doubt that Adam Jones will take part in his fourth World Cup next year; whether he does so as Wales' first-choice tighthead is another matter.
The 33-year-old's 100th international appearance turned out to be one to forget when the Ospreys tighthead was withdrawn after half an hour in Durban last weekend.
Samson Lee, finally given a spot on the bench ahead of his Scarlets understudy Rhodri Jones, came on and had a cracking game.
It has prompted some to ponder whether Jones has enough gas in the tank to make it to England 2015.
Such questions are remarkable given that less than a year ago he was the cornerstone of the Lions pack that was triumphant in Australia.
Jones may not have had the best of seasons and was slightly off the pace at Kings Park but he remains a quality, experienced prop who finally has some competition for the number 3 jersey.
Hopefully one of Welsh rugby's greatest servants will respond in 2014/15 but the situation serves to highlight the perils of central contracts.
There still hasn't been an announcement about the future of the Test centurion, who has received offers from the Ospreys and the Welsh Rugby Union.
If he was to go with the latter then he would probably be nursed through next season rather than playing plenty of rugby to fend off the challenge of the young pretenders, and one of the possible reasons for his Durban display was that he didn't get enough action at the end of the Ospreys' season because of the contract wrangle.
Wales boss Warren Gatland has no doubt been involved in deciding which individuals should be offered central contracts, a process that has focused on retaining regional players rather than bringing them back from abroad.
But if, like in Durban, he was faced by making a ruthless decision regarding replacing a player early on, would the fact he is centrally contracted come into it?
And if the WRU are shelling out a six-figure sum for a player would that be a guarantee of national squad selection even if their form drops off a cliff?
Gatland's strong-minded enough for the answers to be no but any accusations of favouritism would be killed dead by a top-up system rather than going with a smattering of central contracts.
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