Centre Huw Jones reflected on his latest try in a Scotland jersey during Saturday’s famous 53-24 win with satisfaction but admitted he was initially reluctant to receive the ball when stand-off Finn Russell slung it to him after hoodwinking the tiring and increasingly ragged Australian side.
The stand-off appeared to be shaping for a kick to touch after Scotland had been awarded a penalty near the tourists’ line midway through the second half with the home side going for the Wallaby jugular. Instead, he turned on his heels, took a quick tap instead and passed to Jones, who had been heavily involved in the phase of play leading up to the penalty award. There was then the familiar sight of the 23-year-old centre twisting out of the tackle and crossing for the seventh try in what has been a sensational start to his Scotland career.
“We hadn’t worked on that during the week. We spoke about it at half-time. Gregor said it was going to be on,” explained Jones.
“I didn’t call for it. I didn’t actually want it! I was blowing a bit. I think Finn just saw an opportunity and threw it. I was happy to get over.
“There’s always a danger, when you get a few tries ahead, that you sit back and try to close up the game. But we kept saying to each other, ‘Let’s kill them off, keep scoring, don’t think that the game is won.’”
Jones will have a break before joining up with his new club Glasgow, which he is relishing, although he admitted he can’t wait for more chances to shine on the international stage in the new year. “I don’t think we’re at our peak. We’re building something really exciting, looking to get better – and we definitely can,” said the Edinburgh-born former Stormers player.
“We haven’t spoken about the Six Nations much yet but we’ve got high aspirations. We will definitely be looking to improve.”
Jones teamed up with Peter Horne on Saturday after Alex Dunbar failed to come through concussion protocols and the man who took on the No 12 jersey is looking forward to building on the midfield partnership for club and country.
“That was my first time playing with Huw in the centre. I really liked it,” said Horne.
“He’s got a really outside break and is a fantastic attacker. I try my best to make him look good and thankfully he keeps finishing the tries.
“He’s got a great outside break but he’s almost like the Fijians, in a way, because when you try to tackle him he just shrugs tacklers off with his hips. He’s so powerful.
“I really enjoyed playing with him and hopefully we’ll get many more opportunities at Glasgow in the coming years.”
Jones has emphatically nailed down his place as first-choice No 13 but Horne, pictured inset, who can also cover stand-off, again proved his value to the squad.
“I just have to prepare really well. I prepare every week like I’m going to play ten or 12. And you have to grasp every opportunity,” said the 28-year-old.
“Although Alex and I are different, I try to have my imprint on the game. There have been a lot of things I had to work on. Last season, I was maybe a bit off the ball on defence. But it’s an aspect of my game that is really coming back again.
“That’s something that Alex is brilliant at. And I aspire to be like him a bit more.
“He defends so well, he’s our defensive leader. When I come in, I’ve got to fill those shoes.
“We had a goal in the backs of allowing no set-piece line breaks by Australia – and I don’t think they got through. The Aussies are a really good attacking threat, so it’s a real challenge. I just see it as an opportunity if I get a run.”
Horne said the atmosphere at BT Murrayfield the past couple of weeks had given him “goosebumps” and he hopes to taste it again with the big England and France games during what is now a highly anticipated Six Nations.
“I think everyone has got to take us seriously now,” he said.
“England will still fancy themselves, they are flying and have a real winning culture at the moment. They’ll always back themselves but it’s certainly a challenge we can’t wait for. Like last week, as soon as the final whistle went against the All Blacks we just wanted to play them again the next day. That’s the feeling in camp. We want to take on the best in the world and test ourselves against them.
“It will be great to face England and France at home and Ireland are flying too. The Six Nations is going to be really competitive but we can’t wait.”