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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 March 2008, 08:21 GMT
Jones to capitalise on Wales call
Welsh fly-half Stephen Jones takes on Ireland's Ronan O'Gara in last year's clash
Stephen Jones renews fly-half rivalries with Ireland's Ronan O'Gara

Date: Saturday, 8 March
Kick-off: 1315 GMT
Venue: Croke Park, Dublin
BBC Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Sport website (UK users only), Radio Wales and Radio Cymru.

Stephen Jones has vowed to capitalise on his Wales call and inspire Wales to a crucial victory in Ireland.

Wales coach Warren Gatland picked the steadying influence of Jones ahead of his maverick fly-half rival James Hook for their Triple Crown clash in Dublin.

And Jones admits: "I've been given a chance and I must make the most of it.

"Warren has told me about the close competition in our squad and I know if I don't take this opportunity then I won't get another one for a while."

Gatland hopes the 30-year-old former Welsh captain can use his experience to help unbeaten Wales take control of the toughest game of their Six Nations campaign thus far.

Exciting young Hook is then expected to be unleashed by Gatland late on with an explosive cameo against tiring opposition as Wales step up their Grand Slam charge.

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"I'm obviously delighted to be chosen as this is the most competitive squad in my 10-year Wales career," said Jones, who will his 69th cap at Croke Park.

"Warren said that James had a fantastic game when we beat England at Twickenhan but I was given my chance against Italy and I did OK."

Hook was man-of-the-match in Wales' shock opening Six Nations win against England.

The Ospreys sensation kicked 16 points as he guided the Welsh to their first win at Twickenham for 20 years in Gatland's first game in charge.

Hook scored 12 points as Wales eased past Scotland but Jones' impeccable display with the boot, kicking 18 points, inspired the Welsh to a record Six Nations victory over Italy.

But Jones seemingly can't escape number 10 duels.

After edging ahead of Hook in one fly-half contest, the Scarlets star now prepares to go toe-to-toe with an old adversary in Ronan O'Gara.

Ronan O'Gara is a very effective and world-class player

Stephen Jones
Jones pipped O'Gara to be Jonny Wilkinson's deputy for the ill-fated Lions tour to New Zealand in 2005.

Now Gatland has underlined the importance of Jones winning his next battle with O'Gara at Croke Park on Saturday.

"If we don't keep a tight rein on Ronan O'Gara it could be a long day for us," admitted Gatland.

The New Zealander is banking on Jones' know-how and nous to nullify O'Gara's threat and guide Wales to a Triple Crown in Gatland's first campaign.

"Ronan is hugely influential for Ireland," concedes Jones, who played an integral part in Wales' Grand Slam heroics of 2005.

"He has a simple game plan by keeping the ball in front of his forwards at all times.

"Ronan is a very effective and world-class player.

"It'll be a tough afternoon for both me and the team but I am excited about the challenge and determined to do well."

Jones will be without long-standing half-back partner Dwayne Peel in Dublin as Mike Phillips has been given the nod.

"Mike has been playing fantastically well recently - or so he tells me!" quipped Jones.

"Mike and I have played together many times for both Wales and the Scarlets and he's an excellent talent."



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