Sat, 11 Apr 2020

Cardiff - Wales have not lost at home in the Six Nations since February 2017, something that will increase the pressure when they host France in the championship on Saturday, according to Welsh skipper Alun Wyn Jones.

"Sometimes, you go away and people talk about pressure, but I think there's more pressure from playing at home because that expectancy is there," said Jones, who will win his 137th Welsh cap.

"It's irrelevant to what we have or haven't done. There's always that expectancy when you're playing on your home ground and that's no different tomorrow."

Wales kicked off their current campaign with a victory over Italy (42-0) before losing away to Ireland (24-14). France stunned England (24-17) in their opener and went on to beat Italy (35-22) to top the Six Nations table.

Jones will captain a Welsh side Saturday boasting a Six Nations record of 859 caps, compared to a more youthful France side comprising just 234 - and with just one player over 30, Bernard Le Roux.

"Whatever is said, whatever numbers you pull from statistics, it can be very dangerous to rely on those," said Jones, 34.

"We were well aware of the exciting French squad that was announced before the campaign and they've backed that up with their first two performances."

The Ospreys lock also played down any thoughts that the French might be daunted or "shocked" by playing in Cardiff's Principality Stadium, where the atmosphere is famously loud and partisan.

"I think they'll be relishing the opportunity to come to the Principality Stadium in the middle of the Six Nations after a fallow week with another fallow week to come," he said.

Jones also sought to calm a backlash from the French camp that prop Wyn Jones' accusations of the France scrum cheating were a mark of disrespect.

"They're not my words," the skipper said.

"If anything, it's completely the other way, the words were born out of respect for what French rugby has been about for many, many years, which is a dominant pack, flair behind.

"It's probably born more out of respect than a lack of, but that's my perception."

Jones said "the tone, context and language used can sometimes be ill-perceived", acknowledging that his namesake's comments "may have fuelled the fire".

"Ultimately, we just want to conform to the laws and (see that) they're adjudicated accordingly.

"Hopefully the game and the occasion is what we're talking about after the game."

Teams:

Wales

15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Jake Ball, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Wyn Jones

Substitutes: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 Aaron Wainwright, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Johnny McNicholl

France

15 Anthony Bouthier; 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Arthur Vincent, 11 Gael Fickou; 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont; 8 Gregory Alldritt, 7 Charles Ollivon (captain), 6 Francois Cros; 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Bernard Le Roux; 3 Mohamed Haouas, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Cyril Baille

Substitutes: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Jean-Baptiste Gros, 18 Demba Bamba, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Dylan Cretin, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Mathieu Jalibert, 23 Thomas Ramos

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