Edinburgh-born Scotland centre Huw Jones admits his Glasgow side played into the capital team’s hands last Saturday and will need vast improvement this week to level up the 1872 Cup series.
The 25-year-old announced a two-year extension to his Glasgow Warriors contract yesterday and, after coming off the bench in the unfamiliar wing position in the weekend’s 23-7 defeat, is hoping he gets a chance to start at centre this Saturday afternoon at Scotstoun and make up for the frustration of being outclassed by Richard Cockerill’s side.
“They came with a game plan on Saturday, mostly kicking and putting us under pressure, making us play and make mistakes which fell right into their hands,” said Jones. “Obviously, we’ll have to change quite a lot this week, deal with that better, play in the right areas and keep hold of the ball. They are a good side. We’ll have to be a lot better.”
Jones revealed that conversations with senior management and fellow players convinced him to turn down a move to England and stay at Glasgow Warriors for another two years.
It is a development which had been expected after it became clear that a potential move to Leicester Tigers had fallen through.
Jones said that conversations with his club and national coaches and the outgoing SRU director of rugby helped change his mind and convince him to remain at Scotstoun.
“Obviously I chatted to other clubs. I’m sure most players do when they’re out of contract at the end of the season,” said Jones. “I had in depth chats with Dave Rennie, Gregor Townsend and Scott Johnson. Just about my future really.
“They’ve been around long enough and seen players who have come to Scotland and been in my position and I think at the moment, for my career it’s good to stay for another couple of years.” Townsend in particular would have been keen for such an important player to remain within the Scottish system going into a World Cup player, ensuring that his playing schedule can be tailored towards him being at his best for the national team.
“Yes that comes into it. Obviously as a player you just want to play as much as you can but it’s the medics’ and coaches’ job to manage you from a recovery point of view,” continued Jones.
“Core international players are only meant to play four or five games on the bounce. So that comes into it. I’ve enjoyed my time here so far. I haven’t played as much for Glasgow as I’d like to, with injuries and non-selection but I’m looking forward to hitting the field a bit more in the next couple of years.”
Jones was born in the capital after his parents met while studying at Edinburgh University. His father taught at George Watson’s College before the family moved to Kent when the future Scotland star was two years old. After being educated at the same Millfield School in Somerset attended by another Edinburgh-born Glasgow player, Adam Hastings, Jones emerged as a professional player in South Africa, where he had gone to university.
After being called into the Scotland squad by Vern Cotter for the 2016 tour to Japan he has gone on to be a revelation for the land of his birth, scoring ten tries in 19 caps, including a memorable two-try display in February’s famous Calcutta Cup win.
Jones arrived in Glasgow midway through last season after the 2017 autumn Test series having seen out his contract with Western Province/Stormers. It would be fair to say that he has taken time to adjust from the sunshine of Cape Town to the distinctly cooler climes of Clydeside and has yet to replicate his often stellar Test form in the bread and butter of the northern hemisphere club game.
That feeling that he has yet to show his best in a Glasgow jersey was another factor in extending his contract, conceded Jones. Unfinished business you might say.
“That’s a good way to put it I suppose,” he said. “Having been here over a year now I’ve probably not achieved as much as I’d like to with the club. It [the new contract] is a good opportunity to do that.”
Reports from England recently suggested that Jones had been very close to agreeing a move to Leicester next season, with the Welford Road club sure they had got their man.
Asked if it had been a last-minute change of mind, Jones said: “I don’t know if it quite came to that. It was an option, Like I said I sought out the advice of a couple of players and sought out the advice of Dave, Scott and Gregor and think I made the right decision.”