Jones: Irish tactics will be decided by kicker selection

Welsh fly-half Stephen Jones has waded into Ireland's great fly-half debate by stating that Irish tactics for the RBS 6 Nations clash with Wales will be dictated by who is selected at number 10.

Welsh fly-half Stephen Jones has waded into Ireland's great fly-half debate by stating that Irish tactics for the RBS 6 Nations clash with Wales will be dictated by who is selected at number 10.

Ronan O'Gara is in pole position to retain the jersey ahead of Jonathan Sexton following his man-of-the-match display in Saturday's 21-18 victory over Scotland.

O'Gara bristles at the perception he is a kicking outside-half while Sexton is viewed as offering a more accomplished running game.

"What can be frustrating is that it's viewed we play different games when essentially we play the exact same game," said the 33-year-old in Edinburgh on Sunday.

"But people might look upon it differently to suit their agendas."

But Lions veteran Jones, who is locked in his own battle to continue as Wales' fly-half, has faced both players and insists they offer alternative approaches.

"I know what Ronan can do," said Jones, speaking as members of the Wales squad launched new sports drink Powerade ION4.

"He's a great kicker, kicks the ball out of hand very well and marshals the team well.

"He's got good competition from Sexton, there's a good balance between the two of them.

"The coaches have gone with Sexton of late but O'Gara did very well when he got the opportunity against Scotland.

"They're both great players, but have different styles. It's great for Irish rugby to have horses for courses like that.

"I played against Sexton at provincial level. He compliments the centres very well and of course the Leinster centres are the Ireland centres.

"They have a lot of good moves and he's very sharp in the way he plays.

"Ronan marshals a game more than Jonny, who likes to keep the ball in hand.

"The bottom line is they're both very good payers, but they have contrasting styles.

"Playing with Gordon D'Arcy and Brian O'Driscoll for Leinster week in, week out definitely helps Sexton.

"But Ronan's last few performances for Ireland have been top drawer."

Jones' continued presence in Wales' team could be disrupted by the return to fitness of centre Jonathan Davies.

Davies missed the 24-16 victory over Italy with a hamstring injury but should be available to face Ireland when the Six Nations resumes on Saturday week.

With Davies restored to the midfield, James Hook would start in his preferred position of fly-half at Jones' expense.

However, coach Warren Gatland may choose to continue with Hook and Jamie Roberts in the centres after their partnership proved fruitful in Rome.

Wales meet Ireland on the back of successive wins against Scotland and Italy and Jones believes they are starting to gather momentum.

"It was deeply disappointing to lose that first game to England in Cardiff, but we've bounced back with two away wins," he said.

"It was great to get that success in Edinburgh and Rome, it's what we needed. Now it's all to play for against Ireland.

"It's a huge game, it's back in Cardiff against a tough, experienced outfit.

"They have some great ball carriers in the backline and a strong back row, so it will be a hard afternoon.

"We play against the Irish boys a lot in the Heineken Cup and Magners League so we know they'll be a good outfit.

"If we win we'd pick up some more momentum and that's what's need."

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