Glasgow Warriors’ Lee Jones happy on wing or at No 9

Glasgow Warriors' Lee Jones will face Northampton Saints on Sunday. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS/SRU
Glasgow Warriors' Lee Jones will face Northampton Saints on Sunday. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS/SRU
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Lee Jones can probably be forgiven if he is a little confused at present.

The Glasgow wing/scrum-half grew up playing at nine, then moved to the wing where he was deemed good enough to earn four caps for Scotland during the 2012 Six Nations – and scored a try against France to support his case – only to see himself shifted all the back to square one last weekend.

He was covering nine off the bench when Glasgow came a poor second to Racing 92 in Paris last Saturday. Just to rub salt in the wound, he was unused, while it was left to starting scrum-half Ali Price to dam the Racing flood as best he could.

One week on Glasgow are contemplating Sunday’s match at Northampton Saints while Jones is contemplating making the switch to scrum-half a permanent one...or so it seems.

“I enjoyed it and Gregor [Townsend, Glasgow’s coach] has always said it is an option but I didn’t get on the pitch,” said Jones when quizzed about making the move full time. “It is an option but Glasgow see me as a winger first and foremost.”

Jones was not involved in any capacity when these two teams met in the second round at Scotstoun, which may be a blessing. Stuart Hogg had an afternoon to forget with two early errors that gifted Saints a couple of quick tries and they never looked back, running out 26-15 winners. Having done the hard bit and won away from home Northampton will back themselves to do the double at Franklin’s Gardens on Sunday afternoon, even in the absence of the injured England prop Kieran Brookes who put in a man-of-the-match shift last time, dismembering Glasgow’s set scrum and earning his opposite number Ryan Grant a yellow card in the process.

“There is a lot of motivation to go down there and get a result as they came up to us and got a result,” says a defiant Jones. “We are in a position to qualify for the quarter-finals which has not been done before so there is extra motivation.

“They [Northampton] build their game on the set piece. We have had a good look at them today and they pride themselves in their scrum and line-out. When we are at our best we play great attacking rugby. Our ruck speed was not where we wanted it to be in the last game so if we can generate quick ball it will allow us to attack.”

The sort of tactics that Glasgow can expect are probably best exemplified by Northampton’s recent pairing of the giant Luther Burrell with the even bigger George North in the centres. If you can spot the dancing feet, the second play maker or the soft-handed distributor in that duo you are using a better microscope than me. They are there to run hard and to run straight, so at least Glasgow can’t say they weren’t warned.

Meanwhile the Warriors’ own attack has struggled of late, partly down to the large number of players who came back from the World Cup on their knees but the errors might be connected to the constantly changing line-up of the Glasgow XV.

Gregor Townsend has always favoured rotating the majority of his squad to keep everyone interested and fresh but injuries have intervened and any semblance of continuity, even for the big games, has gone out of the window with over 50 players already utilised.

Neither can playing in one of the wettest winters on record have helped Glasgow’s all-court game but whatever the reason, the end result is usually the same. At the end of umpteen phases of play someone inevitably knocks the ball on or loses it in contact. All the momentum Glasgow built up dissipates and, if Jones is to be believed, a little of Glasgow’s self belief goes with it.

“Maybe a bit of confidence,” is the winger’s excuse when asked about the team’s failings. “We have lost a couple of games and it can easily be rebuilt. We were in their [Racings’] 22 and had chances to score but didn’t.”

If Jones can rectify that particular problem on Sunday, there will be no more talk of switching to scrum-half.