Stephen Jones boasts 104 Welsh caps and another six for the British and Irish Lions after starting every Test against South Africa in 2009.
At the grand old age of 35, he is still going strong for Wasps, whom he has helped to six successive home wins this season after flirting with relegation last time out. In the Welsh set-up under Scott Johnson, the stand-off began the process of maturing into the sort of rounded player that he has become late in his career after initially having a reputation as a kicking stand-off.
And Jones was at the centre of the storm that broke in 2006 when Grand Slam-winning Wales coach Mike Ruddock quit amid claims of a players’ revolt. New interim Scotland coach Scott Johnson was the chief beneficiary of the coup, stepping up from assistant to head coach, also on an interim basis. Jones supported Johnson then and he has had little cause to change his mind since.
“It’s not just me,” says the veteran Welsh playmaker. “I think you’ll find a loads of guys willing to speak on Scott’s behalf. It was a pleasure working with him. Scott was brilliant, a really impressive figure who educated us both on and off the park.”
Can Jones put his finger on what makes the Australian such an inspiring coach?
“Well, he is technically very good which is massively important to professional players and he is very focused. He promotes a big work ethic which is one of the first things you notice and that earns him respect.
“His man management is top drawer and he’ll always get the best out of any players that he is working with. I think he’ll do a fantastic job for Scotland.”