Wales captain Alun-Wyn Jones ‘punched by team-mate Jake Ball’ ahead of Six Nations opener
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Wales skipper Alun-Wyn Jones will be sporting a black eye during Sunday’s match against Ireland after a bust-up with fellow lock Jake Ball in training, according to reports. Wayne Pivac’s side will be hoping to secure an unlikely victory over their highly-fancied opponents at the Principality Stadium in their Six Nations opener, but have seen their preparations overshadowed by reports of discontent within the team.
Wales have struggled to find their feet since Pivac replaced long-time boss Warren Gatland in 2019, winning just three of their ten Test matches last year.
It now appears as if the team’s problems have evolved to the point of tension within their ranks on top of their existing on-pitch woes.
During Wednesday’s training session ahead of the visit of Ireland, Jones was punched in the face by Ball which caused a nasty-looking injury to the 35-year-old’s eye, according to the Daily Mail.
The report claims that sources close to the Wales camp have played down the incident.
Ball has not been named in the 23-man squad to face Ireland on Sunday, with Adam Beard set to partner Jones in the second row.
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The training ground clash marks the latest twist in a turbulent week for Pivac after winger Josh Adams was suspended for a breach of COVID-19 regulations.
The 25-year-old broke both his team’s rules and the national lockdown regulations in order to attend a gender reveal party with family last Sunday.
Jones, who currently holds the world record for all-time international appearances with 143 caps for Wales, has urged his side to get off to a strong start against Ireland in order to avoid a repeat of last season’s lacklustre fifth-placed finish.
The 2011 Rugby World Cup semi-finalists then went on to disappoint further in the Autumn Nations Cup, sealing just two wins over Georgia and perennial whipping boys Italy.
“The disappointing thing was how we started the Autumn Nations Cup,” Jones told reporters earlier this week, reflecting on the previous year.
“We’ve spoken a lot about the opportunity that was given and in patches it came together, but the results didn’t follow.
“Wayne has been candid that this is the Six Nations and it’s tournament rugby. We can’t say we didn’t know it was coming or it was organised late because of Covid.
“We knew it was coming and we’ve prepared that way.”
Wales have lost four on the bounce against Ireland, who brushed Pivac’s men aside on two occasions last year.
They were comprehensively beaten three months ago in the Autumn Nations Cup, falling to a 32-9 defeat after a dreadful performance littered with errors and plagued by indiscipline.
Jones continued, calling on his team-mates to focus on getting the basics right if they are to stand any chance of overcoming their latest challenge.
“Those are the obvious things [discipline and errors], but it is general consistency across all facets of our play,” he added.
“You can win games and list off a lot of things, but ultimately it’s consistency in those key areas which allows everything to flow from there.
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