Beard keen to keep winning Wales run going

Cardiff (United Kingdom) (AFP) –


Packing down alongside stalwart Alun Wyn Jones, Adam Beard has the unlikely record of never having tasted defeat in a Welsh jersey, the towering Dragons lock keen to make it 13 straight wins against Ireland on Saturday.

Among the scalps Wales have claimed since Beard made his debut have been those of South Africa (twice), Australia, England and Argentina, the latter in a series.

The 23-year-old is now closing on the Welsh record held by indomitable Swansea lock Geoff Wheel, who notched up 15 straight wins as part of the all-conquering Wales team between January 1975 and March 1978.

"I hadn't heard of him until people started bigging up the record, but now it could happen I have found out a little bit about him," Beard said of Wheel.

"He hasn't been in touch!"

Beard added: "People are bigging up 12 from 12, but I am so lucky to be in a squad of 30-plus players where there is competition in each position.

"The determination and drive that everyone in this squad has got to get better every day and keep this run going is class.

"I have definitely never been in a squad with the feeling we have here. It's a great feeling."

One of Wales coach Warren Gatland's oft-quoted comments on his side is that they are an outfit that has forgotten how to lose, Beard adding he had never learnt how to lose in the first place.

"I never think of losing," he said. "As soon as you do you're on a downward slope.

"Obviously you don't want to get too complacent, too up yourself, but if you keep your feet on the ground and work hard and have a winning mentality you'll be alright."

- Another step-up -

Beard, however, admitted that Saturday's showdown with defending Six Nations champions Ireland at Cardiff's Principality Stadium would be even more intense than the 18-11 victory over Scotland last weekend when his maul defence in particular stood out.

"There's a Grand Slam on the line so, whoever we are playing, it would be another step-up," said Beard, who received nine stitches in two facial wounds sustained in the Murrayfield outing.

"You could say Ireland haven't been their best this Six Nations, but they have only lost one game and just before it beat the All Blacks.

"They are ranked second in the world so, come Saturday, we know it's going to be a massive Test and we need to be on top of our game to get a victory over them."

There is no doubt Beard has thrived playing alongside Wales skipper Alun Wyn Jones, who will win his 134th Test cap on Saturday (nine of those for the British and Irish Lions).

"He has been class for Welsh rugby and for me he has been a role model," Beard acknowledged.

"Around training, games, everything he has been great for me, helping me with my work-ons. There is no better guy to look up to."

Coach Gatland also singled out Jones for praise, saying he had "matured gracefully" and hinting the lock might delay his retirement from international rugby given the form he is in.

"In the early years he was a bit hot-headed and temperamental and he was the one starting the fights in training," Gatland said with a grin.

"That is what a competitor he is.

"He has been very important to us, he is a player who does not pick up many injuries and has been a constant. He is pretty valuable."