Huw Jones set to carry on in full-back role for Glasgow Warriors

Centre wants to persist in new berth after outing at No 15 in 1872 Cup match

Huw Jones ‘ticks a lot of boxes’ as a full-back as well as being a world-class 13, according to Glasgow head coach Danny Wilson. Picture: SNS/SRU
Huw Jones ‘ticks a lot of boxes’ as a full-back as well as being a world-class 13, according to Glasgow head coach Danny Wilson. Picture: SNS/SRU

Glasgow head coach Danny Wilson has indicated that Huw Jones would be happy to continue in the full-back role after taking the Warriors 
No 15 jersey in Saturday’s resumption of rugby in Scotland as Edinburgh won the 1872 Cup clash 30-15 behind closed doors at 
BT Murrayfield.

It was an unfamiliar, though not unprecedented, position for the 26-year-old, who has been capped 25 times for Scotland at centre.

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With the topic of trying to replace star player Stuart Hogg, who is now at Exeter Chiefs, a fraught one in the current financial climate due to the damage done by the coronavirus shutdown, Jones could be seen a bit more there heading into the next Guinness Pro14 season.

“I spoke to Huw in the changing room afterwards and asked him what he thought. He said he really enjoyed it and wants to persist with it,” said Wilson.

“From my end, we do know he has the capabilities and is a world-class 13, but he also ticks lots of boxes for a 
full-back.”

While Jones will likely see his Test future continuing at 13 rather than facing the daunting prospect of competing with Stuart Hogg and his current back-up Blair Kinghorn, the player seems happy to fill that void while needed.

“He got tested on a few things and there are bits he needs to improve on, like the exit late in the game, the need [for the ball] to go off the field but doesn’t and leaves us a bit exposed,” said Wilson.

“But I thought he claimed the majority of high balls. He had one that he probably mistimed. He showed his attacking presence coming into the line and he showed his ability in his kicking game. I think it is an exciting one and he is excited about it so I think we should look at it again.”

Saturday’s defeat ended Glasgow’s all-but-impossible hopes of extending this season but Wilson is looking ahead to a fresh start when the 2020-21 campaign begins, revealing that superstar forward Leone Nakarawa will be back in Scotland this week.

“He is on a flight this week,” explained the coach. “Then we will have to go through the normal process as you do with anyone flying back into the country. Hopefully, it won’t be long before we get him on the training ground.”

The former Cardiff Blues boss and Scotland forwards chief has spent the past few days analysing his first match back in the head coach hotseat and repeated his post-match view that getting on the better side of the referee at the breakdown would be a priority going into Friday’s dead rubber against Edinburgh back at the national stadium in front of 700 fans.

Wilson admitted avenging the loss will be weighed with a need to look at players and combinations ahead of the new season, which is slated to begin the first weekend in October.

“I think it will be a balance. We are aware now that we don’t have another game after this for four weeks,” he said. “We probably need to think about combinations of players that may well lead into that first league game and players who will be available for us.

“A lot of players will be available for that first block, but then we will lose them for long periods [in international windows]. There are definitely a few changes we will make. We won’t make massive, wholesale, complete changes, but we will make enough that it will be noticeable. We do want to look at a couple of people.”

After Friday it will be a case of planning the lead in to the new season, which, as with everything for the past few months, comes with complications.

“We’ll do an internal hit out definitely,” said Wilson. “With the Covid situation we’re not sure what we can or can’t do with travel for non-essential matches, likewise there are teams who aren’t playing and aren’t ready to play so who that opposition would be is the difficulty at the moment.

“It’s not quite as easy as it normally is to just jump into a friendly. We’ll do something internally and we’ll look to do something else but I’ve got to find out what exactly we’re allowed to do. Worst-case scenario, an internal hit-out leading into the first league g
ame.”

Wilson will be desperate to get a win over Edinburgh this weekend but, as he immerses himself in Warriors and the rivalry between the two teams, the coach who worked with many of the opposition with Scotland praised Richard Cockerill’s side on their achievement in earning a home semi-final against Ulster.

“Edinburgh have had a great season,” he said. “Those boys have delivered for Edinburgh. They have got them to a place where they have a home 
semi-final.

“That’s a great achievement and they will be desperate to move on and win some silverware. The boys I have worked with are now looking down the barrel of an extensive international period. But likewise here.

“There were some good head-to-heads on display at the weekend, which is good to see from a Scottish rugby point of view. I think Scotland is definitely growing in depth.”

Glasgow head coach Danny Wilson has indicated that Huw Jones would be happy to continue in the full-back role after taking the Warriors 
No 15 jersey in Saturday’s resumption of rugby in Scotland as Edinburgh won the 1872 Cup clash 30-15 behind closed doors at 
BT Murrayfield.

It was an unfamiliar, though not unprecedented, position for the 26-year-old, who has been capped 25 times for Scotland at centre.

With the topic of trying to replace star player Stuart Hogg, who is now at Exeter Chiefs, a fraught one in the current financial climate due to the damage done by the coronavirus shutdown, Jones could be seen a bit more there heading into the next Guinness Pro14 season.

“I spoke to Huw in the changing room afterwards and asked him what he thought. He said he really enjoyed it and wants to persist with it,” said Wilson.

“From my end, we do know he has the capabilities and is a world-class 13, but he also ticks lots of boxes for a 
full-back.”

While Jones will likely see his Test future continuing at 13 rather than facing the daunting prospect of competing with Stuart Hogg and his current back-up Blair Kinghorn, the player seems happy to fill that void while needed.

“He got tested on a few things and there are bits he needs to improve on, like the exit late in the game, the need [for the ball] to go off the field but doesn’t and leaves us a bit exposed,” said Wilson.

“But I thought he claimed the majority of high balls. He had one that he probably mistimed. He showed his attacking presence coming into the line and he showed his ability in his kicking game. I think it is an exciting one and he is excited about it so I think we should look at it again.”

Saturday’s defeat ended Glasgow’s all-but-impossible hopes of extending this season but Wilson is looking ahead to a fresh start when the 2020-21 campaign begins, revealing that superstar forward Leone Nakarawa will be back in Scotland this week.

“He is on a flight this week,” explained the coach. “Then we will have to go through the normal process as you do with anyone flying back into the country. Hopefully, it won’t be long before we get him on the training ground.”

The former Cardiff Blues boss and Scotland forwards chief has spent the past few days analysing his first match back in the head coach hotseat and repeated his post-match view that getting on the better side of the referee at the breakdown would be a priority going into Friday’s dead rubber against Edinburgh back at the national stadium in front of 700 fans.

Wilson admitted avenging the loss will be weighed with a need to look at players and combinations ahead of the new season, which is slated to begin the first weekend in October.

“I think it will be a balance. We are aware now that we don’t have another game after this for four weeks,” he said. “We probably need to think about combinations of players that may well lead into that first league game and players who will be available for us.

“A lot of players will be available for that first block, but then we will lose them for long periods [in international windows]. There are definitely a few changes we will make. We won’t make massive, wholesale, complete changes, but we will make enough that it will be noticeable. We do want to look at a couple of people.”

After Friday it will be a case of planning the lead in to the new season, which, as with everything for the past few months, comes with complications.

“We’ll do an internal hit out definitely,” said Wilson. “With the Covid situation we’re not sure what we can or can’t do with travel for non-essential matches, likewise there are teams who aren’t playing and aren’t ready to play so who that opposition would be is the difficulty at the moment.

“It’s not quite as easy as it normally is to just jump into a friendly. We’ll do something internally and we’ll look to do something else but I’ve got to find out what exactly we’re allowed to do. Worst-case scenario, an internal hit-out leading into the first league g
ame.”

Wilson will be desperate to get a win over Edinburgh this weekend but, as he immerses himself in Warriors and the rivalry between the two teams, the coach who worked with many of the opposition with Scotland praised Richard Cockerill’s side on their achievement in earning a home semi-final against Ulster.

“Edinburgh have had a great season,” he said. “Those boys have delivered for Edinburgh. They have got them to a place where they have a home 
semi-final.

“That’s a great achievement and they will be desperate to move on and win some silverware. The boys I have worked with are now looking down the barrel of an extensive international period. But likewise here.

“There were some good head-to-heads on display at the weekend, which is good to see from a Scottish rugby point of view. I think Scotland is definitely growing in depth.”

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