How Jones became a better leader
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Alun Wyn Jones’s outstanding captaincy of Wales seen to such dramatic effect in last season’s Six Nations Grand Slam triumph has been helped no end by being a father, he told The Daily Telegraph.
The second-row forward – who will become Wales’s most capped player with 126 caps if he faces England at Twickenham on Sunday – is the father of two daughters, Mali, 4, and one-year-old Efa.
Jones, who will be 34 by the time Wales begin their World Cup campaign against Georgia on September 23 in Japan, said prior to having children with his wife, university lecturer Anew, he did not have much thought for his teammates.
“When I was a young professional, I was quite selfish and self-focused,” he said.
“You care for yourself because you ultimately want to achieve your goals.”
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) July 26, 2019
Jones – capped nine times by the British and Irish Lions – says fatherhood has made him more interested in his teammates and as a result he is aware of why some might not be performing at their best.
“It [fatherhood] has made me think about how everyone experiences bereavement, birth, good times, and bad times,” he said.
“Everybody has a story, if you scratch the surface a little bit; it helps you understand why somebody might not be performing well.
“It is nice then to find out when someone has some positive news.
“Having children has definitely made me want to find out more about the people I play with, and it has made me think a bit more about my teammates as people and their families.
“I want people to know about my family and it is good to share any questions or qualms with the other guys.”
Jones, who has been part of three Grand Slam-winning sides, said being closer to one’s teammates means easing the burden when they are on tour and they can talk about missing important family events.
“Sometimes the biggest support is that you can talk, everybody is going through the same things but at different times, it could be a missed wedding anniversary, anything – it is not rocket science, it is just a case of talking about it,” said Jones.
Jones, whose post rugby career looks destined to be in the legal world as he has a law degree, says being a father has not necessarily made him a better player.
Others might beg to differ with him being named player of the Six Nations and the likes of former Wales flyhalf Jonathan Davies saying he is the greatest player to don the Welsh jersey.
“Hopefully, it has made me perform better, which is a different thing to being a better player — having that responsibility makes rugby the outlet, so I get the opportunity to really express myself at rugby,” he said.