WALES prop Paul James is hoping he wins his 50th cap from the start in Dublin next Saturday as Wales look to build on a pedestrian victory over Italy, writes Andrew Penman.
The 31-year-old former Ospreys star, who now plays his rugby for Bath in the Aviva Premiership, took his international appearance tally to 49 in the Six Nations opener, which ended 23-15 to Warren Gatland’s men.
Loose-head James may have to settle for a place on the bench against the Irish next week, however, with Gethin Jenkins ready to return from a knee injury.
Gatland said beforehand that Jenkins was fit to face the Italians but would benefit from an extra week’s rest and James knows that the British & Irish Lions man may well force him onto the bench.
“It would be a massive achievement so fingers crossed I’m involved next week,” said James on the prospect of winning his 50th cap for his country.
“We’ll see what happens. I spoke to the coaches and whatever they do they do.”
The Neath-born battler knows that Wales will have to improve if they are to win in Ireland but was relieved to have seen off the Italian challenge.
“It was a tough game but we’re happy to get the win,” he said. “Those games are always tough but parts went well and parts we need to work on for next week.
“We created chances but didn’t look after the ball well enough so no big issues it was just blowing the cobwebs off really and getting ready for next week.
“They’re a dogged team and they got stuck in to us and pressured us so it was a good first run out for us.
“Obviously it’ll be tough in Dublin and we’ll have to step it up a bit but we can go into that game feeling confident.
“One or two errors let Italy back into the game so that puts pressure on you then but we did well in dealing with that and kept going to the end.”