Huw Jones discusses Glasgow Warriors return and prospects of a Scotland recall - ‘I’m a better player now than I ever have been’ -

Huw Jones believes he’s a better player now than he’s ever been and is hopeful Scotland – as well as Glasgow Warriors – will be the beneficiaries.

Huw Jones credits his season at Harlequins with improving his as a player. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Huw Jones credits his season at Harlequins with improving his as a player. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

The centre enjoyed a memorable afternoon for his club on Sunday as Franco Smith’s side defeated the Stormers 24-17. It felt like a significant occasion for the home team who were well worth their win over the URC champions. Jones was outstanding, scoring one try and creating two others as he made his first appearance at Scotstoun for almost two years.

The Edinburgh-born back left Glasgow after the 2020-21 season to join Harlequins before returning after a single campaign in the Gallagher Premiership. His stint in England may have been brief but he credits it with improving him as a player.

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“It was refreshing to be with a new coaching staff, different players and different ideas,” he said. “I played with some quality players down there – a lot of the England boys. So it was good to learn from them, and I played a load of games. The most games I’ve ever played in a season.

“In my stint up here, I didn’t really play in the first three seasons. I only just made my 50th appearance in five seasons! At Quins it was nice to just play loads, and I got better off the back of that.”

A back injury delayed his second debut for Glasgow and he had to wait until December 10 and the Challenge Cup tie against Bath before he could pull on the jersey again. He helped the Warriors to a notable away win at the Rec, followed it up by playing in the victory over Perpignan and then had to bide his time before facing the Stormers. His record since returning is three wins in three games, with a try in each – not bad going for Jones who turned 29 just before Christmas and is loving life at Glasgow under Smith.

“The level of coaching and level of training – it’s intense out there, but it’s good and it’s making us all better players. When I came here, I was a youngster. I’d done well but I was pretty fresh. I’d only played almost 50 games between Stormers and Western Province combined – not a lot of rugby. I got here and didn’t play that much either, so my development has taken a while to really get going.

“I’m a better player now than I ever have been. It’s pleasing for me. I’m happy with where I’m at but I want to keep improving and I’m sure I will, but where I am now, I’m better than I was when I was playing for Scotland back then and doing well. I now have more to offer.”

Huw Jones touches down against his former club in Glasgow's 24-17 win over the Stormers. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

During his first stint at Scotstoun, Jones helped Glasgow reach the 2019 Pro14 Grand Final where they were edged out 18-15 by Leinster before more than 47,000 at Celtic Park. He has a good feeling about the current squad, perhaps sensing they can go a step further.

“I don’t know whether it’s because I’m now more experienced and a little bit older and a better player, but looking at this squad and the way we play, I’m really confident about this group and where we can go,” Jones said. “When I was last here we got to a final, got to a semi-final. I think we can do something special, maybe this season, maybe next season. I don’t know when but the way we’re getting better, building and improving – it’s a young squad as well. I’m really excited.”

Saturday’s win over the Stormers lifted Glasgow to fifth in the URC. A top-four finish is required to secure a home play-off quarter-final and, as things stand, the Warriors would have to overhaul one of Leinster, the Stormers, the Bulls or Ulster. Their current form – they've won six in a row – suggests it is eminently possible.

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Smith had instilled a steeliness in Glasgow that was missing under his predecessor, Danny Wilson, and has also unleashed a formidable backline, with Tom Jordan a revelation at stand-off and Sione Tuipulotu and Jones causing havoc in the centre. Jones was often deployed at full-back by Wilson but offers more of a threat at 12 or 13.

Huw Jones last played for Scotland during the 2021 Guinness Six Nations. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

“The brand of rugby we’re trying to play – attacking, fast-paced – suits this whole group,” said the player. “We’re getting better at it, each day each week in training we’re improving and that’s showing in the results as well.

“I loved playing full-back and thought I played pretty well there. But I’ve improved as a player and my time at Quins was very valuable for me. Coming back, as I’ve been integrated into training, the coaching is really good, everyone is buying-in and the standard at training is a lot higher now than it was when I was previously at the club. That’s the main factor, I think. We’re training really well and that’s transferring into games.”

It’s almost two years since Jones last played for Scotland but the centre may have timed his return to form and fitness to perfection, with Gregor Townsend due to name his Six Nations squad later this month.

“It’s not something I’m thinking about at the moment,” said Jones. “I’ve only had three games this season so it might be too early. Obviously it would be great to be involved with Scotland again, but at the moment I’ll just try to string together a couple of games with Glasgow.”

Huw Jones celebrates his try for Glasgow Warriors against Stormers on his long-awaited return to Scotstoun. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Jones was due to tour Argentina in the summer but stress fractures in his lower back put paid to hopes of adding to his 31 caps.

“It was a bit disappointing to miss out. I hadn’t been involved for a while before that so it’s been quite a long time now. It would be lovely to be involved but I’m just enjoying playing for Glasgow at the moment.”

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