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Beard lauds 'total professional' Jones as Wales chase Six Nations Grand Slam

Beard lauds 'total professional' Jones as Wales chase Six Nations Grand Slam
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The Wales captain has set an imperious standard during his 13-year international career.

Adam Beard was just 10-years-old when Alun Wyn Jones made his Wales debut in the South American rugby outpost of Puerto Madryn.

Almost 13 years on, though, they are set to be second-row partners in Wales' bid for Six Nations title and Grand Slam glory.

Jones will lead his country into battle against Ireland at the Principality Stadium on Saturday, when victory would confirm membership of Wales' Grand Slam captains' club.

Wales v South Africa – Autumn International – Principality Stadium
Wales and Ospreys lock Adam Beard, pictured, has heaped praise on team-mate Alun Wyn Jones (David Davies/PA Wire)

Since lining up at blindside flanker on his first Wales appearance 7,500 miles away from home against Argentina, Jones has become one of Wales' most decorated players.

A double Grand Slam winner, triple Six Nations champion and a World Cup semi-finalist who has also featured in nine Tests for the British and Irish Lions, the veteran forward is just five caps short of equalling prop Gethin Jenkins' all-time Wales appearance record.

Jones has featured in 124 of his nation's last 160 Test matches, and when Wales beat Scotland at Murrayfield last weekend, it was his 62nd victory in the red shirt – a new national record.

At 33, he remains among the most revered and respected performers in world rugby.

And Beard, whose own career portfolio is dominated by a 100 per cent record for Wales from 12 games, is the first to applaud his Ospreys team-mate's status.

"He is a total professional," Beard told Press Association Sport.

"You look at everything he does in training. There is no stone left unturned.

"He just sets the standards in everything he does, whether that is a unit session with set-pieces or at the gym, he is always there to set the standards, which is why he has been going for so long.

Alan Wyn Jones, left, will be hoping to lead Wales to Grand Slam glory when they face Ireland this weekend
Alun Wyn Jones, left, will be hoping to lead Wales to Grand Slam glory when they face Ireland this weekend (John Walton/PA)

"He has been great for me. Every aspect, whether it is in the gym, rehab, anything towards the game – set-pieces, kick-offs, ball-carrying – he is always there helping me out.

"There is no-one better to learn off.

"It is incredible what he has achieved in his career. I don't think there is a better rugby CV out there.

"There are not many that can say they have done what that man has done. It is just a credit to how he has gone over the last 10-plus years.

"He hasn't captained Wales to a Grand Slam, and it would be great for a guy like him if we could do it."

Jones would be the last person to shout about his achievements, but 2019 might just be his greatest year yet if Wales take European rugby's twin double prize before launching a concerted World Cup challenge in six months' time.

And for Beard, it is a case of continuing the learning process as he benefits from every minute playing and training alongside a true global star – and possibly joining him as a Six Nations title and Grand Slam winner.

Rugby Union – RBS 6 Nations Championship 2005 – Wales v England – Millennium Stadium
Gavin Henson celebrates Wales' victory over England in the 2005 Six Nations. (David Jones/PA Wire)

"I remember the 2005 Grand Slam game with Gavin Henson's penalty kick at the end against England, and some of the tackles he put in," Beard added.

"And I went to the 2013 game against England with my brother and two mates (Wales won 30-3 to end England's Grand Slam hopes and win the title), and how amazing the atmosphere was.

"That will go down as one of the greatest Welsh wins ever, I think.

"If we are lucky enough to get there (Grand Slam), it would be an amazing achievement."

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