Six Nations 2018: Ireland will be tough despite absentees – Alun Wyn Jones
|Six Nations: Ireland v Wales|
|Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday, 24 February Kick-off: 14:15 GMT|
|Coverage: Live on S4C, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary|
Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones says Ireland’s injuries will not weaken them when the two sides meet on Saturday in the Six Nations in Dublin.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt is without British and Irish Lions Robbie Henshaw, Tadhg Furlong and Iain Henderson.
The trio were all injured in the 56-19 win over Italy on 10 February.
“There are obviously forced changes, but they’re at home so it’s going to be tough whatever Irish side we face,” said Jones.
Wales are boosted by the return of backs Dan Biggar, Liam Williams and Leigh Halfpenny.
Tight-head prop Andrew Porter, 22, takes the place of Furlong, while 21-year-old James Ryan replaces Henderson in Ireland’s starting line-up.
Centre Chris Farrell will deputise for Henshaw, who is out of the tournament.
Jones, who played alongside all three injured players on the 2017 Lions tour, believes they will be a loss, but expects their replacements to be inspired by the occasion.
“They’re quality players with British and Irish Lions experience and players of that experience are a loss,” said Jones.
“Whoever fills the void has a point to prove after missing out initially and will want to take their opportunity.
“I’ve heard a lot about Porter from Tadhg Furlong on tour. He’s a big, strong boy. James Ryan has had a few appearances for Leinster and Ireland and then there’s Stockdale on the wing and Farrell in the centre.
“They’ve had a few opportunities and I’m sure they’ll be looking to get those again in the green jersey.”
Wales’ attacking mindset
Wales also have players who lack experience at the Aviva Stadium where Ireland have not lost a Six Nations game since 2013.
Flankers Aaron Shingler and Josh Navidi, centre Hadleigh Parkes, lock Cory Hill and wing Steff Evans have not played against Ireland in Dublin.
But Jones says Wales will not change their approach.
“There is a lot of talk about the style and brand we are trying to play – the mindset hasn’t changed, it is still attacking rugby,” he added.
“There are guys who haven’t played in games as big as this and in this competition, they may well be the difference.”