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Last Updated: Monday, 9 January 2006, 09:41 GMT
Jones returns with European dream
Stephen Jones in Test action for the Lions
Wales and Lions fly-half Stephen Jones says he hopes his Scarlets comeback can see the region to Heineken Cup glory.

"I know the players and coaches at the Scarlets are very ambitious and Europe is the most important thing," he said.

"I have the utmost respect for Cardiff Blues and Clermont Auvergne have been superb to me, but I have fond memories of the Scarlets and was glad to return.

"I hope to come back a better player. The French league is great, but its length made Wales preparation hard."

Jones, 28, returns to Stradey Park from Clermont Auvergne at the end of the season in a lucrative three-year deal.

His decision was welcomed with joy by everyone at the Llanelli region.

I hope he's here to the end of his career
Scarlets captain Simon Easterby

"It's fantastic news," said Scarlets coach Nigel Davies. "Stephen was brought up here, he's gone to France and expanded his rugby horizon, and now he's made the decision to come back.

"It's a real boost to us, he's coming back to a very exciting back line that's starting to put some great stuff together.

"We have some real quality out there and Stephen will add hugely to that.

"He has a wealth of experience and talent and he'll be big part in this club moving forward, there are a lot of exciting things happening here."

Scarlets captain Simon Easterby was understandably thrilled at the return of Jones, who was one of best men at his wedding this summer.

Whatever you say about the modern game, fly-half is still the key position and Stephen is world class
Ex-Wales and Llanelli fly-half Jonathan Davies

"He's been away for two years and has proved himself on the European stage, he was the best fly-half in France last season," said Easterby.

"In France he was given the freedom to go out and express himself, and we all know that when Stephen does that most sides he plays in will do well.

"I hope he's here to the end of his career, he's a fantastic player and a fantastic guy.

"He'll slot straight back in to the set-up here at Stradey, it gives us a lot of options in that position.

"There are two quality fly-halves already here [Gareth Bowen and Mike Hercus] and Stephen will add to that strength in depth."

Former Llanelli and Wales fly-half Jonathan Davies also welcomed the news.

"Cardiff Blues were confident they would get Stephen, but he's a Carmarthen boy and he knows what it's like at Stradey," said Davies on BBC Wales' Scrum V rugby programme

"I think the Scarlets' re-signing of [Jones' Wales and Lions half-back partner] Dwayne Peel had a lot to do with it, that was the clincher.

"Stephen's been brave to go to France and he comes back a better player and a stronger person.

"I think that the whole Scarlets side might play to him. Whatever you say about the modern game, fly-half is still the key position and Stephen is world class.

"Wales' players in France and England have all improved, but it's nice to have Stephen back under the control of the Welsh coach.

"The French league is brutal, so Stephen's return is great for the Scarlets and great for Wales."




SEE ALSO
Jones tops French fly-half poll
26 Jul 05 |  Internationals
BBC Wales Sport coverage
18 Sep 05 |  Wales
Transfer talk - Welsh regions
08 Jan 06 |  Welsh


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