For someone with minimal sleep following exuberant Saturday night celebrations and a 9,000 mile air journey not long completed, Huw Jones was looking remarkably fresh when he faced the media yesterday just a few hours after arriving in Edinburgh to take his place in Scotland’s autumn Test series squad
The 23-year-old centre was still beaming with joy after scoring two tries in Western Province’s 33-21 Currie Cup final victory over the Sharks in Durban at the weekend and admitted it had been a bit of a whirlwind since.
“Since the game finished there were celebrations, firstly in the changing rooms and then back to the hotel. They carried on into the night. I flew back to Cape Town the next morning, then it was straight home for me to pack my bags and get back to the airport. I landed this morning around 7.30am.”
Jones, who is now a Glasgow Warriors player and moves into a new flat in the city this week, is aiming to resume an international career which had got off to a highly impressive start with four tries in his eight caps so far.
An injury sustained in the last game of this year’s Six Nations against Italy meant he missed the summer tour but, in a way, that time off has helped him arrive back in the northern hemisphere fresh for the rest of the season.
The Currie Cup campaign has got him back to full fitness and sizzling form and the Edinburgh-born midfielder, who grew up in England, couldn’t have asked for a better way to leave the country which launched his professional career after going to the University of Cape Town.
“The perfect ending really,” he said of Saturday’s triumph. “It’s the first piece of silverware I’ve won in South Africa. It was nice to get that before I left and a good performance as well.
“I’ve been looking forward to this but Western Province will always have a place in my heart. It was very emotional leaving Cape Town.”
Jones is now looking forward to working with Scotland coach Gregor Townsend for the first time after flourishing under Vern Cotter, who gave him his first cap on the summer tour to Japan last summer.
“I’m very much looking forward to it,” Jones said. “I’ve seen what Gregor’s done with Glasgow and what he did in the summer [with Scotland]. Having spoken to the Glasgow boys they only have good things to say about him and how he coaches. I had a couple of days up in St Andrews [for a Scotland get-together in August]. I’m very excited to work with him.”
It was in last autumn’s November series that Jones really laid down a marker of his abilities with a man-of-the-match two-try display against the Wallabies, who will be the third leg this year after matches against Samoa (November 11) and New Zealand (November 18).
Jones is excited to have the chance to face the gold jerseys again after missing out on the historic victory in Sydney during the summer.
“I thought the guys played some great rugby, it was the first time under Gregor and it was exciting to watch. I woke up early to watch the Australia match and got fairly excited,” he said.
“We’ll maybe not talk about [the loss in] Fiji [in the last game of the tour], but that is parked now and in general they were happy with the tour and excited to carry on from the Australia performance.
“I was massively disappointed to miss it. During the Six Nations I heard that we would be off to Singapore, Australia and Fiji and I thought I would love to visit those places and play rugby there.”
Jones has played most of his Test rugby in partnership with his new Warriors team-mate Alex Dunbar and will be heartened to hear his fellow centre has been declared fit enough to be in the squad following a knee injury. There could be opportunities to try new pairings also, with the likes of Newcastle centre Chris Harries one of the newcomers in the squad.
“I always look forward to training with new guys – you can learn from them,” said Jones.
“It will be good to see how we can link-up and I can learn from them and vice versa.”
Jones has been playing inside centre in the Currie Cup but has been employed out wider with Scotland.
“I can play either, not too fussed, as long as I get to play”, is his verdict.
“It suited Western Province for me to be at 12, but no not too fussed.”
Last year’s clash with the Wallabies ended in an agonising one-point defeat for the Scots. It was an encouraging display but Jones has no interest in glorious failure this time.
“The sort of mindset of losing bravely has gone,” he said. “We want to go in and compete with the world’s best and what better opportunity than taking on the world number one and two sides in the next few weeks [New Zealand and Australia].
“We will definitely look forward to them and make our mark.
“I don’t want to be the one-season wonder. I’m hoping to keep building and improving and not think ‘now I’ve made it’.”