Jake Ball: Scarlets lock targets World Cup starting spot

Jake Ball (centre) was one of four locks who started for Wales in the 2019 Six Nations alongside Adam Beard (left) and Alun Wyn Jones (right)
Jake Ball (centre) was one of four locks who started for Wales in the 2019 Six Nations alongside Adam Beard (left) and Alun Wyn Jones (right)

Wales second row Jake Ball is targeting a World Cup starting spot in Japan.

Ball has not played since being a replacement for Wales in their Grand Slam win over Ireland in March.

Wales will name a training squad of around 40 players on Tuesday with Ball among those aiming to impress before the autumn tournament in Japan.

"I played in the 2015 World Cup and my main goal was always to be the starting lock in the tournament four years on," said Ball.

The 27-year-old hopes to return to action for Scarlets' Champions Cup play-off-match against Ospreys in May.

Ball added: "I am confident if I can string together some games I can put myself right and put myself in pole position.

"The boys who have come in have done well but you have to have belief in your own ability."

Ball has suffered an injury-plagued couple of seasons with three shoulder injuries followed by a foot problem he picked up in the 2019 Six Nations win over Scotland.

The 32-cap lock was able to make a replacement appearance against Ireland the following week before being ruled out for up to two months.

"It was a frustrating injury because I played against Scotland, tweaked my knee a bit and did not think much of it," said Ball.

"I went to take my shoe off in the evening and my foot was really big.

"I could not fit it in my shoe anymore but we managed to get the swelling down and get back into training on the Tuesday so I could feature in the Ireland game.

"I did not want to miss that and it was one of the greatest feelings I have had on a rugby pitch.

"I had a scan afterwards which was not great news because I feel like I was getting back to where I would like to be after another knock-back.

"I went five years with next to nothing, but in the last couple of years I have picked up a batch of injuries.

"I have looked at my style of play a bit because it is not very forgiving on myself."

Pivac send-off

Now Ball hopes to return for Scarlets next month against Ospreys in the European eliminator after his region lost to Dragons at Judgement Day.

"It is a massive game and would be an ideal send off to Wayne Pivac and the coaches," said Ball.

"We owe them because they have done a hell of a job since coming in.

"The Scarlets not being involved in the Champions Cup does not sound quite right, so that is an extra incentive."