Gloucester Rugby: Davies ready to renew acquaintance with Jones
A TALENTED young centre joined Llanelli in 1996, and ended up playing fly-half – thanks to Nigel Davies.
Aberystwyth-born Stephen Jones arrived at Llanelli as an inside centre.
But that was decorated Wales international Davies' role.
Something had to give, and rightly enough, it was the youngster.
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Fast forward 15 years and Davies and Jones have already run an entire career's course of different working relationships.
From team-mates to coach and player, at both regional and international level in Wales, now the friends square up to each other for the first time in the English Premiership.
At 34 Jones has nothing left to prove, having amassed 104 caps for Wales and six for the British Lions.
Two stints with Llanelli have been punctuated by a couple of years at Clermont in France.
The accurate tactician could easily have completed his career at his home club, but instead chose a new challenge for this season and next.
He could easily have ended up at Gloucester too, with the Cherry and Whites keeping a keen eye on him when alerted to his availability last term.
Jones has found a new niche at Wasps though, and booted 23 points last weekend in his new side's 43-14 victory over London Irish. Gloucester rugby director Davies is intrigued by the narrative thread underpinning Saturday's Kingsholm clash with Wasps (kick-off 3.15pm) – but has told his players not to get lost in sideshows.
The Cherry and Whites boss explained: "It's a big challenge for Steve at his age, it's great for him and you have to admire the guy because he obviously wants to keep on playing.
"He's got a huge amount of experience and he's someone I've worked with ever since he's been a professional rugby player.
"And in fact when he came to the Scarlets I was still playing, he came as a 12 and I was 12, so I forced him into going to ten!
"So there could be little elements of his game that we might look at, certain strengths and weaknesses.
"But it's important to remember we can't focus too hard on what the opposition will do, we've got to get our game in order.
"We've still got to be mindful of giving ourselves that platform and opportunity to take sides on in the right areas of the field.
"We've been improving on that front all the time, but there's still work to do there, and you always have to keep territory in mind.
"Someone like Stephen Jones knows how to use the ball to his side's advantage, and in the same way that we've got to stop him being able to do that, we've got to use the territory to our aid too."