PROP Adam Jones insists Friday’s thumping win over France has proved Wales have the character to fight for a third successive Six Nations title.
Warren Gatland’s men, and Jones in particular, came in for a lot of criticism after the 26-3 demolition by Ireland in Dublin two weeks ago.
But the 27-6 victory over France at the Millennium Stadium was the perfect response from Wales and means the dream of keeping the trophy is still on for now.
“It’s kind of similar to last year I think,” said Jones. “The first two games we were shocking and then we got a bit better as the championship went on.
“We’re pretty mentally strong as a group I think. We were shocking against Ireland but we were never as bad as we were made out to be after one game.
“This team is different to the past. In 2004 we got hammered in Ireland and the same in 2006 after Gav’s book came out, which didn’t help us, but we didn’t come back from those defeats.
“We didn’t have the character then but this is the first time this has happened to our team.
“We haven’t got stuffed by a Six Nations team and thought ‘where are we now?’ before but we put a lot of hard work in and it came off.”
Jones and fellow veteran prop Gethin Jenkins also proved a few doubters wrong with an improved display against the French but Jones says personal criticism doesn’t affect him.
“Sometimes as a player if no one is challenging you then you can get a bit comfortable but with this squad now there’s a lot of competition,” he said.
“You can’t rest on your laurels anymore and that was drummed into us but there’s a bit of life in me and Gethin yet I think.
“You feel the pressure through your family really. It upsets them more than me.
“It flipped back to ten years ago for my mother and father when I used to get slated a bit but it’s only rugby. Whatever.
“It’s a bit like last year but the scrums went better than they did in France last year.
“We’ve worked hard with (forwards coach) Robin McBryde, we’ve tweaked a few things technically and we’re getting there slowly.”
Next up for Wales and Jones is a trip to Twickenham to face England on Sunday, March 9 – the day after his 33rd birthday – and Jones can’t wait.
“Now we’re going to HQ. Lovely,” he said. “We’ve got to work hard now over the next few weeks and it will be a different challenge against England but we’ll be ready for it.”