Jarvis ready to step into emergency Wales hooking role

Luke Phillips

Cardiff (United Kingdom) (AFP) - Wales go into the World Cup with just two established hookers, Scott Baldwin and Ken Owens, but versatile prop Aaron Jarvis says he is ready to step in should the call come.

The Welsh face a daunting line-up of Pool A matches against Uruguay, England, Fiji and Australia.

Given the physical demands of modern-day rugby and the attrition rate amongst forwards, most teams have opted for three specialist hookers to pack down at union's coal face.

Wales coach Warren Gatland has instead preferred to rely on the versatility of Jarvis, even though the 29-year-old readily admitted that the last time he packed down between two props was when he was 13.

"I last played there when I was small, young, back in the day," Jarvis said with a smile.

"I didn't start playing until I was 13 so around that sort of time - I played a lot of positions. It's something I've done a tiny bit of it in the past. I did a bit at school and at Exeter Chiefs junior section."

Jarvis, born in Exeter and qualified for Wales through a Welsh grandmother, said he had been put through his paces by Baldwin and Owens.

"I've been doing bits and bobs, practising my throwing," said Jarvis, who has won 13 caps since making his debut in 2012.

"I've had a lot of help from both hookers - they've been great in showing me different ways of holding the ball.

"Scrummaging wise, it's not too different to prop really, maybe the starting position. It's something I'm comfortable with and I'm happy if it's to come down to it in an emergency situation."

Jarvis added: "Personally I think I've improved quite a lot and I'm really enjoying it.

"It's something different and learning something new and I'm doing alright at it."

Clive Woodward, who led England to glory at the 2003 World Cup, has recently hinted that it would not be safe to play a prop as hooker, but Jarvis disagreed.

"If I'd agreed with it (Woodward's opinion) I wouldn't do it," he said.

"Scrummaging isn't too different and I'm happy to do it. The coaches know what they're doing here so it's not a problem."

Wales kick off their campaign against Uruguay at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday and Jarvis said he was expecting a physical encounter against a side coached by a former tight-head prop, Pablo Lemoine.

"They've got a pretty decent scrum," the Ospreys forward said.

"They're big, physical men so that will be a good contest. They've had a month together so I'm sure they'll be really organised.

"We're starting the analysis and having a good look at them - good scrum, good maul, it'll be good."