ALUN WYN JONES says Wales will take little notice of Irish absentees in tomorrow’s Six Nations clash at Lansdowne Road.
While Wales can claim more than their fair share of injuries — British and Irish Lions trio Sam Warburton, Jonathan Davies and Rhys Webb are among those missing this weekend — Ireland have also been hit hard.
They will be without a quartet of 2017 Lions in centre Robbie Henshaw, prop Tadhg Furlong, lock Iain Henderson and flanker Sean O’Brien, with head coach Joe Schmidt handing starts to Test rookies like Chris Farrell and Andrew Porter this weekend.
Ireland have not lost in Dublin since world champions New Zealand beat them 15 months ago, but that impressive record could come under serious threat when Wales look to mark head coach Warren Gatland’s 100th Test at the helm in style.
“There are obviously a few forced changes, but they are at home so it’s going to be a tough test whatever Irish side we face,” Wales captain Jones said.
“They are quality players with British and Irish Lions experience and players of that experience are a loss.
“Whoever fills the void has a point to prove after missing out initially and they will want to take their opportunity. I said before the Scotland game [three weeks ago] that we can’t focus on the people who aren’t there. We need to focus on the ones who are.”
One Irish player who remains a constant thorn in the side of any opposition team is fly-half Johnny Sexton and Jones knows from Lions experience on the last two tours how valuable a player he is.
“He has elements of your typical 10,” Jones added. “He is very demanding, knows what he wants and is fiercely competitive. That is a quality of all 10s.”
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