x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Centurion Brian O'Driscoll hails Stephen Jones

Brian O'Driscoll, the Ireland captain who will win his 100th international cap today against Wales in Dublin, has said that Stephen Jones is the best Welsh player he has ever faced.

Brian O'Driscoll, the Ireland captain who will win his 100th international cap today against Wales in Dublin, has said that Stephen Jones is the best Welsh player he has ever faced. The Ireland centre, 31, said he admires Jones, the Welsh fly-half, because he has performed at an extremely high level for a prolonged period. "When you look at the best players you have played against, you have to look at consistency," said O'Driscoll.

"Guys who have been there for a long time. So, I think it's probably Steve Jones. "He's managed to remain in a pretty hot jersey in Welsh rugby. The No 10 for Wales - there has always seemed to be a streamline of them coming through. "Yet even with someone like James Hook coming through in recent years, Stephen has managed to always regain the position and make it his own. "He's just a hugely confident guy in his own ability. He inspires confidence around him and he's just quite the player."

Ireland have to win today to have any chance of defending their Six Nations title and catching Grand Slam-chasing France, who host Italy tomorrow. Like Ireland, England trail the French by two points. They visit winless Scotland today with manager Martin Johnson wanting his side to respond positively after Tommy Bowe's late try saw Ireland beat them at Twickenham a fortnight ago. "A team need to have that conscience and that response and think 'right, we are not going to be sat there [after a loss] again'," said Johnson.

"The mindset has to be right. We are going away from home. You have got to enjoy that challenge in playing in volatile situations." sports@thenational.ae Ireland v Wales, 6.30pm & Scotland v England, 9pm, both on Aljazeera Sport + 3