Senior advice led Huw Jones to turn down Leicester for Glasgow
The 25-year-old Scotland centre announced his contract extension yesterday – a development which had been expected after it became clear that a potential move to Leicester Tigers had fallen through.
Jones said that conversations with his club and national coaches and the outgoing SRU director of rugby helped change his mind and convince him to remain at Scotstoun.
“Obviously I chatted to other clubs. I’m sure most players do when they’re out of contract at the end of the season,” said Jones. “I had in-depth chats with Dave Rennie, Gregor Townsend and Scott Johnson. Just about my future really.
“They’ve been around long enough and seen players who have come to Scotland and been in my position and I think at the moment, for my career it’s good to stay for another couple of years.”
Townsend in particular would have been keen for such an important player to remain within the Scottish system going into a World Cup year, ensuring that his playing schedule can be tailored towards him being at his best for the national team.
“Yes that comes into it. Obviously as a player you just want to play as much as you can but it’s the medics’ and coaches’ job to manage you from a recovery point of view,” added Jones. “Core international players are only meant to play four or five games on the bounce. So that comes into it.
“I’ve enjoyed my time here so far. I haven’t played as much for Glasgow as I’d like to, with injuries and non-selection but I’m looking forward to hitting the field a bit more in the next couple of years.”
After being called into the Scotland squad by Vern Cotter for the 2016 tour to Japan he has gone on to be a revelation for the land of his birth, scoring ten tries in 19 caps, including a memorable two-try display in February’s famous Calcutta Cup win.
Jones arrived in Glasgow midway through last season after the 2017 autumn Test series having seen out his contract with Western Province/Stormers. It would be fair to say that he has taken time to adjust from the sunshine of Cape Town to the distinctly cooler climes of Clydeside and has yet to replicate his often stellar Test form in the bread and butter of the northern hemisphere club game.
The feeling that he has yet to show his best in a Glasgow jersey was another factor in extending his contract, conceded Jones. Unfinished business you might say.
“That’s a good way to put it I suppose,” he said. “Having been here over a year now I’ve probably not achieved as much as I’d like to with the club. It [the new contract] is a good opportunity to do that.”
Reports from England recently suggested that Jones had been very close to agreeing a move to Leicester next season.
Asked if it had been a last-minute change of mind, Jones said: “I don’t know if it quite came to that. It was an option, I sought out the advice of a couple of players and sought out the advice of Dave, Scott and Gregor and think I made the right decision.”
Jones said he had received counsel from the likes of Stuart Hogg, who is moving on to Exeter Chiefs at the end of this season but has previously spurned chances to move elsewhere for a bigger salary in favour of the stability provided by remaining in Scotland.
“I did seek out advice from other players, guys who have been in the same position as before. Hoggy was certainly one,” said Jones.
“I’ve spoken to players all over the world, guys I know and trust, and got good advice from them. When it came down to it I think I made the right decision.”
With Rennie making a verbal assurance last month that he will be at Glasgow for at least another year, Jones hopes that a settled environment will help him continue to improve and be in the best shape possible for some huge Scotland games on the horizon.
“The management point of view comes into it. It’s a big couple of years coming up on the field with Glasgow and international rugby as well,” said the centre. “So rest will be quite good. Also the way Glasgow are going, obviously barring Saturday [the 23-7 defeat at Edinburgh], we’re doing pretty well in the league, going well in Europe.
“It’s an exciting club to be at. Dave has re-signed so we’ve got a good coach for another year at least and it’s encouraging.”
Jones came off the bench to fill an unfamiliar wing role at BT Murrayfield on Saturday. He is hoping to get a midfield start this weekend as Glasgow look to hit back from the deflating experience of being outplayed by their inter-city rivals in the 1872 Cup opener.
“They came with a game plan on Saturday, mostly kicking and putting us under pressure, making us play and make mistakes which fell right into their hands,” said Jones.
“Obviously we’ll have to change quite a lot this week, deal with that better, play in the right areas and keep hold of the ball. They are a good side. We’ll have to be a lot better.”