‘I feel fitter now than at any time since the Lions tour.’

A rugby fan who has been on Mars for the past three years or so may return home with a number of questions, including a research query or two about the progress rugby has made. where Jones.

This will be the same where Jones Who arrived for the Lions Test side in South Africa.

The same man who, immediately after the trip ended, was priced at just 8/1 by some bookmakers to lead British and Irish rugby's best on their tour of Australia in 2025.

As West Wallian's stellar 2021 draws to a close, only three other European players, including Tadhg Furlong and Cyril Bailly, appear higher than him in Rugby World magazine's annual list of the 100 best players on the planet.

“He is where Are you still on the hunt for the Lions' captain?” our space-traveling friend might ask after returning from his interplanetary journey. “What was it like when he won his 50th cap for Wales? Has he been named Welsh Player of the Year yet?

What will probably come as a surprise is the news that the freewheeling player is still two matches away from his half-century for Wales, and no, he still has not been honored as Welsh Player of the Year. He is also not listed among the contenders for the Lions captaincy these days.

In a disappointing season, a host of players will leave the Scarlets, including Wyn Jones and Ken Owens, who is retiring (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

But these are days of change for the much-loved Llandovery farmer. Welsh rugby faces huge financial challenges and last week Jones He features in the list of players set to leave the Scarlets at the end of the season, having featured in the starting line-up just four times this season. He has not played for Wales in over a year and played his last home game for the Scarlets last weekend, coming off the bench against Ulster.

What do you make of all this?

JonesHis Twitter page was decorated with a photo of him about to fire his gun. Who or what was he looking up to at that time? One or two types of villains may have concluded that those who chose the Crimson Side were probably candidates to be on the receiving end. But maybe it's better not to go there.

But the campaign has been difficult for the 32-year-old.

“I find it frustrating because I feel physically fitter now than I have at any time since the Lions tour,” he says.

Can I explain that? I think it's a matter of opinion. You accept that as a player, but of course you want to start and contribute as much as you can

“I came back with a knee injury, which I was supposed to have surgery on, but I kept playing, and then I had a knee injury. I also had a back problem, although the AC problem was worse. I've had more than My fair share of bumps but that's the way things go sometimes in rugby.

“I've been quite fit recently, my body is in really good shape, but I haven't been getting the game time I need.

“Can I explain that? I think it's a matter of opinion. You accept that as a player, but of course you want to start and contribute as much as you can.

Evidence points to him making 25 minutes as a substitute against Ulster last time out Jones He still has plenty to offer, as the 6ft 1in, 17st 13lb scrum technician deflects the opposition's dead ball at one point and also helps push young No.8 Carwyn Tuipulotu for a try. Among his campaigns, there was a particularly purposeful effort Jones He grunted his way forward like an angry bull. He made five tackles without making a mistake and had a huge impact.

Wayne Jones
Jones has 48 caps and, at the age of 32, would very much like to hit a half-century (Photo by Andy Buchanan/Getty Images)

Afterwards, many wished him a fond farewell as spectators mingled with the players at Parc y Scarlets. “The supporters have been really good over the years,” he says. “Some of the messages I've received since announcing my departure have been fantastic and it was nice to have people saying nice things on the pitch after the Ulster game. I've made a lot of friends and I'd like to think that these are people who I would be friends with if I met them later in life.

“When I was a young boy at school, you always dreamed of playing for Llanelli, as they were then, and then when they became the Scarlets. They were the biggest side in the area. I wanted to play for Llandovery if I could, and of course, Every rugby player at the school wants to play for Wales and I'm really glad I ticked those three boxes.

“I enjoyed it at Scarlets. When I talk to kids or anything else, I say the main thing is that you love what you do and who you play with. And I still carry that way of thinking with me today. I love going to work every day. I've always said, today The one I don't enjoy will be the day I hang up my shoes.

I was a late bloomer because I wanted to go to university and get a degree before I committed everything to rugby, because you never know how long rugby will last.

“We had some really good times. I was injured when we were in the European Cup and we beat La Rochelle in the quarter-finals in 2018, but it was great for the club and the boys and you still remember those days when the stadium was full and we were playing well. Those are the days you want.” As a player.

“I was a late bloomer because I wanted to go to university and get a degree before I committed everything to rugby, because you never know how long rugby is going to last. At that stage, I never dreamed of playing for Wales. It's about trying to prepare my future before I give my all in rugby.

Jones He continued: “We still have two games left this season, so I'm not done with the club yet. I thought things went well from a personal point of view last weekend. We only had one group when I was inside, but their taut heads rose into the air. They weren't great at party time, so it was good for them to have more time on the pitch, to try and make an impact from the start and maybe have a bigger impact on the game.

Wayne Jones
Just three years ago, Wyn Jones was playing for the British and Irish Lions (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

“When I started against Connacht, I thought I went well. I think I had three or four Jackals turnovers, which probably kept us in the game a little bit, but I didn't start the next game. You want momentum as a player, to keep going, but that wasn't it.” Available for me this year.

Now, there is an important decision about his future. The agriculture and animal sciences graduate has long been active on the 400-acre family farm in Llandovery, living next to the main farm and working alongside his parents and being able to combine this role with his job as a rugby player. player.

Walking away would change all that, and disrupt what Jones He's known for a long time, but he doesn't rule anything out. “There are some chains in the fire, but I'm in no rush to sign, because I want to make sure this is the right move,” he says. “It's about assessing what's on the table and making the right decision.”

“At home, there's the farm and my wife is a real estate agent. There are some other things that it's good to be home for. The other side of the coin is that being away will bring us a life experience that we might want to have. I'm not really in it for the money at this point “And most importantly, I'm in the right place and I'm enjoying it. Would I go to France? It's something I would think about, yes, to experience life and love it, while George North is going there too. It's about finding something that feels like it.” Through it you can challenge yourself, add value and perform well for the team. Playing at a good level is important to me.”

While playing, I will have ambitions to play for Wales. I've always said when I don't have those aspirations, I'll retire.

However, he is not dismissive of the idea of ​​staying in Wales, and given the difficult problems some Welsh professional teams have suffered this season, it would be surprising if there is no interest on that front. “I have an open mind,” he says. “To be honest, all the areas are about the same distance from me. I could still live in my house in Llandovery if I went to another area, which is something to think about if an offer comes in.”

Let's move on to the test scene. Is there still time for Jones To bring him back into Wales' image? There should be. The cliché is that props mature with age, and it's true. Dan Cole has made four starts for England at the World Cup this season at the age of 36, while the 37-year-old Neil has made four appearances for Scotland in the same tournament.

whatever, Jones He is up for the challenge. “While playing, I will have ambitions to play for Wales,” he says. “I've always said when I don't have those aspirations, I'll quit. If I look back 18 months ago, when I was having knee problems and conditioning problems, I sat down and thought: 'Is my body giving up on me?' Am I done?

Wayne Jones
Wayne Jones had some magical times with the Scarlets and has no regrets (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

“But over the last eight to 10 months I've felt really good. I've got that edge back and I really want to play.

“I would like to think that I will be able to qualify for the next World Cup. That is a goal of mine. I want to play for two or three years. If I play well enough, I would like to be able to score; if not, so be it. But I definitely “I will do my best, and I hope to get back there.”

JonesLlandovery's old boss Euros Evans has no doubt his former boss can stick around for a while yet.

“Thirty-two is not old at all,” says Evans, the Drovers' director of rugby, who has just led his side to a league and cup double. “If you take care of yourself, you can last until you're 35 or 36 without any problems. Also, where He joined professional rugby later than a lot of others, so he hasn't been beaten since the age of 18 or 19. He played for Ammanford and then for us, also went to college, and didn't break into the pro game until his early mid-20s. From that perspective, he still has a lot of mileage in him. As long as the appetite is there, he can go for a good few years.”

Evans knew Jones He was poised to move from Llandovery to the Scarlets a decade ago after a string of dominant performances. “I remember one game at Ebbw Vale when he defended their driving line almost single-handedly,” says the former hooker. It was great. He could dig, but he was also a strong carrier and very good on the ball. “It wasn't hard to predict that he would do well.”

But no career is a straight line, and the challenge is always to keep going. This is what Jones intends to do.

It is not unlikely that Warren Gatland could look his way again. If he did that, the farmer from West Wales would certainly not let him down.


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