Jones gunning for European success
September 29, 2009
Stephen Jones is looking forward to his domestic return © PA Photos
Scarlets fly-half Stephen Jones is raring to go for his side's Heineken Cup campaign, insisting that his form with the British & Irish Lions in the summer means nothing now that the new season has started.
Jones, who started all three Tests for the Lions in South Africa, will return to action in the Scarlets' Magners League meeting with Ulster on Friday before orchestrating proceedings against Brive and London Irish in the opening rounds of European action.
The Scarlets endured a difficult group-stage exit last season, but Jones is hopeful of a flying start and some eye-catching performances ahead of Wales' November Test matches.
"It's very kind of people to say that the summer went well but from my personal perspective I need to play some good rugby for the Scarlets," he told ESPN Scrum. "In two games we've got Brive at home and London Irish away and then Magners League again.
"It's all about getting comfortable with the Scarlets' game plan, doing my job to the best of my ability and getting selected in November. I'm looking forward to it, I can't fault the region, it's been fantastic the way I've been looked after and the pre-season I've had has been top drawer. From a personal perspective it's nice to have done the pre-season but it's all about playing rugby and I'm raring to go."
The Llanelli-based side have a strong Heineken Cup tradition and are banking on some of their younger players, including fullback Daniel Evans, centre Jonathan Davies and hooker Ken Owens, finding their feet at elite level. Jones will form part of an experienced backbone to the side along with flanker Simon Easterby, No.8 David Lyons and skipper Mark Jones.
"From our perspective obviously we look forward to a great competition," said Jones. "We've got a lot of youngsters in our squad who are all local guys and have gone through a bit of a transitional period but we've started to pick up some good performances. We've got a tough group, as most of them are, but we're excited by the competition.
"It's key to our future and our success, it's all about developing local talent, we've got a lot of local guys coming through. They've been thrown in the deep end by are performing very well. Yes, we haven't backed up a lot of our good performances with victories but we're not far off and we're going in the right direction.
"It's hard to make predictions, every team looks to be strong at home and then on the road you chuck everything at the opposition and give it one big effort, that's how we are going to approach it as well."
On Saturday, New Zealand face the USA in a match that has been 40 years in the making. Tom Hamilton finds the atmosphere building in Chicago
Most modern rugby players will not know the name Ray Williams but they should be eternally grateful to him, writes John Taylor
With the All Blacks playing the USA Eagles this weekend, Craig Dowd says rugby is ready to make a professional breakthrough Stateside
"He had a death stare so you'd know when you were wrong." George Kruis talks about his mentor Borthwick, fly-fishing and his England aspirations