Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text WILTS TIMES to 80360 or email us
RUGBY: James relishes Murrayfield chance
9:00am Friday 8th March 2013 in News
IT WAS a long time - six years to be exact - before Wales prop Paul James could exit international rugby's one-cap club.
But the fact he is now closing in on 50 Test match appearances and is a strong contender for this summer's British and Irish Lions tour to Australia underlines how important a part he has become of Wales' set-up.
A successful move to Bath - James is approaching the halfway point of a two-year contract - can also be credited with keeping him firmly in the Test match spotlight.
He will win his 44th cap in Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash against Scotland at Murrayfield, taking over from an injured Gethin Jenkins as Wales target a victory that would keep alive their title hopes.
Wales' interim head coach Rob Howley admitted this week that it would have been a close call between Jenkins and James even had the Toulon loosehead not been laid low by a calf muscle injury.
And it comes as no surprise that 30-year-old James is thirsting for his opportunity after three successive Six Nations appearances off the bench this season.
"I am enjoying my rugby," the ex-Ospreys forward said.
"I feel like I have made a good impact every time I've come on in games, and I am just looking forward to having a start.
"I think playing in the Premiership is a bit closer to international rugby in its intensity. I think that has improved my game, and it is starting to show a bit.
"I wouldn't say it is just playing in the Premiership. It was also the fact I played for the Ospreys for 10 years, you are at one club for so long and maybe you get a little stale.
"I suppose going to Bath I was new there, but so were all the coaching staff. The slate was clean and it was just about training hard and waiting for your opportunity.
"Touch wood, it's gone well so far. I've settled in nicely, got on with the boys and formed a nice partnership with Davey Wilson and Rob Webber, and Mearsy (Lee Mears) before he called it a day.
"It's just a more physical league to play in the Premiership. Then when you move to international rugby again the standards step up, the physicality steps up, but Premiership rugby is just that one stop closer."
James was only 21 when he received the call for a Test debut against Romania in 2003. His next appearance came against New Zealand, six years and five Wales coaches later.
"Yeah, it does feel funny," added James, reflecting on his early Test career.
"But you don't really think about it as a player. It's nice to have a couple more caps now behind me. 50 caps? If it is meant to be.
"I suppose if you are starting games you are in the (Lions) shop window, but I don't really think about that. I am just focusing on this weekend. Hopefully, I can do a job."
The Wales scrum destroyed Italy in Rome last time out after a difficult night in Paris two weeks previously, and if they can dominate the Scots on Saturday then it should go some way towards securing a sixth successive victory in the fixture.
James will be an integral part of Wales' set-piece effort, and he is braced for a stern examination.
"If you look at Scotland's games so far they've done really well in the scrums," he said.
"If we can get a good platform going forward, we all know what we've got behind the scrum. If we can dominate up-front, that's going to put us on the right step forward.
"So we've worked hard all week, and if us forwards can get together and do a job as a pack, then hopefully we can create some space and our backs can finish off behind."
And like a lot of the Wales players in action this weekend, James knows what to expect from Scotland boss Scott Johnson, his former coach at the Ospreys who also took charge of Wales on a caretaker basis for three Tests in 2006.
Australian Johnson is known for making colourful - and sometimes controversial - comments to the media, although James added: "He has been quiet this week.
"He usually likes a riddle or two. I know he likes to chuck out a few riddles to the press.
"I didn't really ever take much notice of it to be honest (at the Ospreys). Everybody knows what he's talking about, it's just the way he puts it across. It's different - it keeps you on your toes as a player."
Bath Rugby are running a ticket offer of two tickets for £40 for their Aviva Premiership match against London Welsh on Saturday, March 30 (2.15pm).
Ring the ticket office on 0844 448 1865 and quote: 2 for £40 Offer.
NEWS FROM BATH'S LV= CUP SEMI FINAL AT HARLEQUINS AT WILTSHIRETIMES.CO.UK/SPORT TOMORROW AND MORE BATH RUGBY NEWS IN FRIDAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES
Comments are closed on this article.