Cardiff – Wales’s thumping 25-7 victory over Ireland to land the Six Nations Grand Slam on Saturday means the Welsh are no longer under the radar and have a target on their backs said inspirational captain Alun Wyn Jones.
The 33-year-old added coach Warren Gatland’s unflappability had also served to calm nerves during the week.
Former Wales star Jonathan Davies described the second row as the best player to ever don the red shirt.
Jones — winning his 125th cap — said it was reward for hard work crowned with a performance that made last year’s Six Nations Grand Slam winners look very ordinary.
“Particularly great to show what a proud nation we are over last 9 weeks,” said Jones.
“We have self belief and character, we are not going to shy away, we have been unconvincing at times too but we have put a target on our backs.
“He (Gatland) is the man at the top and it filters down, we have been under pressure and he has been unwavering and unflappable he has a bit left on his contract but sure we will miss him.”
Gatland – who became the first coach to achieve three Grand Slams in Five or Six Nations history – refused to take any the pats on the back for the success.
“I am proud of the players it is not about me it is about the players they were playing for themselves their families and Wales,” said Gatland.
“It was a fantastic performance. We didn’t look too tired did we,” grinned Gatland referring to England counterpart Eddie Jones’ dig that they would be fatigued for the game.
“We are just trying to slip under the radar we know on our day we are capable of beating good teams,” said Gatland.
“They will run through a brick wall for you and we are a tight knit group.
“We got here with a bit of luck we have a good chance of beating anyone.”
Gatland eulogised about Jones in answer to Davies labelling him as the best player of all time for Wales.
“He has really matured as a player,” said Gatland.
“He is tough and resilient and he deserves all the accolades he gets.
“He is a fantastic person and a great player.”
Irish captain Rory Best – for whom it was a dispiriting experience on his final Six Nations appearance as it is for coach Joe Schmidt – said he could not assess immediately why his side’s form had slipped.
“Look, it is a very competitive Six Nations,” said the 36-year-old grizzled hooker.
“We lost to two very good sides and we have to address why.
“We have to be more consistent, dust ourselves off and hope we finish strong in the World Cup.
“It is disappointing but we will talk about the aftermath afterwards, we should focus more on Wales and a deserved Grand Slam.”
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