Alun Wyn Jones: Wales captain prepares for World Cup farewell
|2019 Rugby World Cup bronze final|
|Venue: Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo Date: Friday, 1 November Time: 09:00 GMT|
|Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru, BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, plus live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app|
Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones says he is preparing to bid farewell to the World Cup when he leads his side out against New Zealand in the bronze match.
Jones will finish his fourth global tournament where he has become the new Wales cap holder.
At 34, he says it is unlikely he will be involved on this stage again.
"I think I am one of the players Warren talks about who isn't going to have another World Cup," said Jones.
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"From a selfish point of view, I will acknowledge that and that's probably why this one meant so much."
Jones wins his 143rd cap on Friday with his 134 Wales internationals supplemented by nine Tests for the British and Irish Lions.
The Ospreys lock has surpassed Sergio Parisse to move to second in the all-time caps list and is chasing only Richie McCaw's world record of 148.
Jones is named among a six-strong shortlist for World Rugby player of the year alongside South Africa duo Pieter-Steph du Toit and Cheslin Kolbe, England flanker Tom Curry, New Zealand back-rower Ardie Savea and USA hooker Joe Taufete'e.
It will also be his 21st World Cup match, one shy of the competition record of 22 shared by Jason Leonard and McCaw.
Jones has always placed more store on the team than individual accolades and will have proved a pivotal figure in helping Wales overcome the disappointment of not reaching the World Cup final.
The bronze match takes place only five days after the South Africa semi-final defeat but Jones was never going to rest from this game.
"I've started it [this journey], so I'm going to finish it," said Jones.
"Everyone has got a few niggles. There are a few guys who are unfortunately injured and can't be selected.
"Everyone was champing at the bit to play in this one, to finish it off, because it's the last one we have."
Jones says Wales must try to recover from their failure to reach a first final as they bid to beat New Zealand for the first time since 1953.
"The show goes on, doesn't it?" said Jones.
"It's not the show we wanted but we've got to move on.
"We've had threads of chat about the history and wanting to be the first team to get to the final.
"We haven't done that but have an opportunity to come up against an All Blacks team that we are still looking for a win against; I certainly am.
"I am proud of the group as a whole.
"To be so close, that's why it's a difficult thing to get over. Everyone's committed to this cause and this is where we find ourselves.
"This game on Friday is right in the sights. It's the one that paves our exit out of the tournament. Hopefully we can go out in the best possible manner."
The match also represents Warren Gatland's final game in charge and Jones is the only member of the squad who was involved in his first match in February 2008.
"He's created expectation that's gone through the roof in the past 12 years over his tenure," said Jones.
"He is fiercely loyal, not only to players but to the country and the job. When the pressure has come on, he has stuck to his guns.
"When you talk about change, he has been reluctant to do that at times, and it has paid off. He's had the Midas touch at times.
"I am fortunate to be involved in his tenure. He is one of, if not the most successful northern hemisphere coaches ever.
"A World Cup final appearance has eluded us and that would have been the jewel in the crown.
"But it's a far cry from where we were in 2007 to where we are now - one quarter-final, two semi-finals, three Grand Slams and a further Six Nations Championship.
"Those markers speak volumes rather than one individual performance."
'Change on the horizon'
Gatland has also talked about ensuring he is leaving the future in good hands with fellow New Zealander Wayne Pivac taking over.
"He's always had one eye on that," said Jones.
"It's a credit to him as a person that he wants to give the next regime the best chance possible.
"It also puts the pressure on. That expectation is always going to be there. I can see him wanting to pave the way and someone to carry on from the foundations he's set.
"There is change on the horizon. Change is something people are either fearful of or excited about.
"There's going to be a large number of boys involved in that. The age profile and experience is something, as a coaching set-up coming in, you're going to be licking your lips over.
"They will have people out of the blocks and with international experience already."
Jones will also look to be a part of that. He has 18 months on his contract with the Welsh Rugby Union and Ospreys that take him through until the summer of 2021.
He refused to be drawn into whether he will target the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa that year. That is for another time.
So while his World Cup chapter might be coming to an end, he hopes his international career will still be going strong.
"When you're in this position, you want to do it for as long as possible," said Jones. "I've got a bit longer yet."