By Gareth James
Alun Wyn Jones has been described as an ‘absolute pest’ by British & Irish Lions room-mate Iain Henderson.
The roomies are set to face each other on Friday when Wales begin their Autumn Nations Cup campaign against Ireland in Dublin on Friday.
The duo formed a good bond on and off the pitch during the Lions tour to New Zealand in 2017.
“I roomed with him, he was a great lad, he was insightful in almost everything you chat to him about,” Ulster skipper Henderson said of the Wales skipper.
“I really don’t like playing against him – it’s probably one of his biggest talents. When players don’t like playing against other players, it’s almost a compliment to the type of player they are.
“He obviously adds a fair bit of oomph, if you like, to their pack.
“He’s an absolute pest when it comes to breakdown and maul time, scrum time. The scrum generally looks a bit stronger when he’s in behind there.
Wales will need the world’s most capped player to bring that ‘oomph’ as Wayne Pivac’s side try to end a miserable run of five straight defeats which saw defence coach Byron Hayward depart this week.
“In terms of the charisma he brings to the team, obviously he’s captained them a lot and has a lot of leadership qualities, which you see coming out.,” added Henderson.
“Those are things that he brings and trying to negate that is difficult because he is a relatively resilient character who will continue to bring that irrespective of how the game’s going for them.
“I don’t enjoy playing against him for that sort of reason but the other challenge is an enjoyment of playing against him and it’s great to catch up with him after the games too.”
Henderson is expected to be recalled to the Ireland team after a three week ban for a red card for making contact with Ospreys back Dan Evans last month when Jones was also playing.
“I think if anything it was probably clumsy,” the 28-year-old said of the sending off.
“I joked about it afterwards that had it been maybe 50 minutes earlier in the game, I may have got in better body shape, a bit of fatigue kicked in there.
“It was stupid on my behalf, especially trying to close out a game like that – you don’t want to be giving anything stupid away, so that’s probably a frustration for me.
“I put my hands up and say it shouldn’t have happened and again it’s discipline, something I’ve had to work on a few times, so I will be looking to stamp that out of my game.”