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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 October 2006, 13:49 GMT 14:49 UK
Skipper Jones lauds Thomas reign
Wales' new captain Stephen Jones
Jones takes the Wales armband from Gareth Thomas (background)
New Wales captain Stephen Jones paid tribute to former skipper Gareth Thomas after being chosen to lead his country through to the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

Wales coach Gareth Jenkins has opted to hand the armband to the 28-year-old Lions and Llanelli Scarlets fly-half.

"Alfie (Gareth Thomas) has been a superb captain, his enthusiasm is infectious," Jones said.

"He is well liked throughout the squad and it is good to know he will be there alongside me."

Jones has led his country once before, in a 2003 World Cup warm-up match that ended in a 43-9 defeat.

But the fly-half, who played all three Tests for the Lions in their last tour to New Zealand, believes that Wales started on a path that year that will pay dividends in the 2007 tournament.

I'll approach the job with a smile on my face as always

Wales captain Stephen Jones

"We started something at the 2003 Rugby World Cup with our performances against New Zealand and England that led to us winning the Grand Slam in 2005," Jones added.

"We have 14 international matches to play before we kick-off our 2007 Rugby World Cup campaign against Canada in Nantes."

First task for Wales will be four Invesco Perpetual Series matches in November against Australia, the Pacific Islands, Canada and New Zealand.

"Next month we will take our first steps down a long road and the aim is to get everything right in that time to ensure we can be as competitive as possible against the best teams in the world," Jones said.

"We kick-off with the game against Australia in the opening Test next week and we couldn't have asked for a tougher, or better, start to what promises to be an incredible 12 months.

"These are exciting times for Welsh rugby with a high level of competition for places."

Born: 08/12/1977, Aberystwyth
Height: 6ft 1in
Weight: 14st 6lb
Test record: 56 Wales caps (506 pts - 6T, 91C, 95P, 3DG); 3 Lions caps (14 pts - 1C, 4P)
Clubs: Llanelli, Clermont Auvergne, Llanelli Scarlets

Jones is grateful for the faith shown in him by new Wales coach Jenkins, who saw him come through the ranks at Llanelli and the Scarlets when Jenkins was in charge at Stradey Park.

"This is a great honour for myself, my club and my family and I am grateful to Gareth and the management team for giving me the opportunity to lead my country," said Jones.

"But the captaincy won't change me - I'll approach the job with a smile on my face as always and hopefully ensure we have a happy camp with a strong work ethic.

"If I can achieve that, as captains before me have done, then I will be happy with my lot."

Wales and Lions legend Phil Bennett believes Jones is an ideal choice to take the Wales reins.

"I feel it's time for a fresh start, a new face, a new voice to go with the new coach and that man for me is Stephen Jones," Bennett said.

"He controls the game at number 10, he might as well lead the side as well."



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