British & Irish Lions and Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones has revealed what his dream pack of forwards could look like, including just one Springbok player.
In his new autobiography, ‘Belonging’, Jones tells the story of how he became the most capped rugby player of all time, working his way through the age grades, club matches and regional sides.
The normally reserved lock heaps some rare praise on a number of forwards, which can be used to put together a formidable forward pack.
Among the players he speaks about is former Springbok lock Bakkies Botha, who built a reputation as one of the world’s most fearsome enforcers.
“He revelled in it, didn’t he. Physically he has to be up there,” Jones writes about Botha.
“Let’s just say he was able to keep the tradition going of the hardest of South African second rows. Bakkies was a big man, and he always hit hard.”
Jones also touches on former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, whose record he overtook to become the most capped player of all time.
“I’m not comfortable with any of the comparisons with McCaw. He has two World Cups. I don’t. I’ve got those holes in my CV. A legend.”
On front rowers, Jones says England prop Kyle Sinckler had good aggression and energy, while he praises Gethin Jenkins’ ability to play like a loose forward.
“Kyle Sinckler is good fun, a connection between us in Adam Jones, the tighthead ahead of me for so long for Ospreys and Wales, a coach for him in his formative years was a good icebreaker. I’d like to think we get on. I like his aggression and energy on the pitch. Those are assets that can be harnessed, not controlled.”
On former Ireland captain Paul O’Connell, Jones says: “I remember being impressed with his unruffled demeanour, plus his level of organisation. All his socks in one bag, all his shorts in another. Everything decanted into smaller bags within bigger bags. You cannot shy away from how effective the guy was in his position.”
Alun Wyn Jones’ Dream Pack – 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Richie McCaw, 6 Sam Warburton, 5 Paul O’Connell, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Gethin Jenkins.