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Oct 20, 2019 at 8.15am UK
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Stephen Jones: '2011 defeat great fuel for France rematch'

Stephen Jones: '2011 defeat great fuel for France rematch'
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Wales ready for World Cup quarter-final showdown against France.

Stephen Jones says that Wales' 2011 World Cup semi-final defeat against France will produce "great fuel" for Sunday's showdown in Oita.

Former Wales fly-half Jones went on as a second-half substitute eight years ago, missing a conversion as Wales suffered an agonising 9-8 defeat after skipper Sam Warburton had been controversially sent off.

This time around, Wales and France meet at the quarter-final stage, with Japan or South Africa awaiting the winners.

Sam Warburton watches on after his 2011 red card
Sam Warburton watches on after his 2011 red card (David Davies/PA)

"It's great fuel to drive you forward to achieve your goals, and that's what that is," Wales assistant coach Jones said

"It was a tight game. Even when we were down to 14, we battled hard and it still could have gone either way.

"We had gathered a lot of momentum in that World Cup, and we were in a good place.

"It is unfortunate we lost the game and the manner in which we did. There were some wonderful experiences of that 2011 World Cup. Yes, it was disappointing. That's sport.

"This is a different group of players. Some were involved that day, but the vast majority weren't. You look at the recent games against France and the boys have had some good success."

Wales head coach Warren Gatland is set to have a fully-fit squad to choose from, including centre Jonathan Davies, fly-half Dan Biggar and wing George North, who have all been recovering from knocks.

Defeat in 2011 was tough on Jones
Defeat in 2011 was tough on Jones (David Davies/PA)

Jones added: "We are in a great position. The boys integrated back into training today. The medical team have done a fantastic job on our players.

"You want a full complement. You look at those players, huge experience, great skill-set.

"Jon has a physical threat, and you saw what he did with that last line-break just before he got injured. It's vital we have everyone fit and healthy.

"It's special, isn't it? We are very excited. It's the business end and we are all chomping at the bit for the game on Sunday.

"They (France) are a very physical outfit, wonderful athletes, but we are really concentrating on ourselves and getting our own house in order."

When Wales last met France – in the Six Nations eight months ago – Gatland's men fought back from a 16-0 interval deficit to win and set the ball rolling towards an eventual Grand Slam.

This year has seen Wales win the Grand Slam
This year has seen Wales win the Grand Slam (David Davies/PA)

"We will look back on that match," Jones said. "It is important we learn lessons from that match.

"The positives are that we stayed in the fight and got back and won that game, but yes, we've definitely taken some lessons on board from that first-half."

If Wales lose on Sunday, it will be Gatland's final match at the helm following a success-laden reign that began with the 2008 Six Nations title.

He steps down after the tournament and will be succeeded by his fellow New Zealander Wayne Pivac.

Warren Gatland is leaving at the end of the World Cup
Warren Gatland is leaving at the end of the World Cup (Adam Davy/PA)

Wales scrum-half Gareth Davies said: "We all knew it was going to be his last tournament in charge of us, and we do speak about it every now and then.

"Especially this week now, it could be our last game, but hopefully it won't be.

"Alun Wyn (Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones) is a great captain and he speaks very well, and I am sure he will mention the fact it could be Gats' last game.

"Hopefully, not. As players we will have that in the back of our mind, and hopefully it will give us a couple of extra per cent to come away with a good victory."

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