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Page last updated at 12:21 GMT, Wednesday, 4 August 2010 13:21 UK

Scarlets Mark Jones and Simon Easterby end playing days

Mark Jones
Mark Jones had a long injury history, but still won 47 caps

Mark Jones and Simon Easterby have retired and will take up coaching positions at the Scarlets.

Wales wing Jones, 30, has been forced to concede defeat in a long battle to return from a knee injury and has taken a two-year deal as a skills coach.

"It is a double-edged announcement and it has taken some time to accept that I am hanging up my boots," said Jones.

Ex-Ireland and British and Irish Lions flanker Easterby, 35, has accepted a two-year contract as defence coach.

He combined limited playing time last season with the role of forwards coach at Parc y Scarlets, but the latter role has been taken by Robin McBryde.

Easterby captained the Scarlets for five consecutive seasons and is Ireland's most-capped flanker with 65 appearances, the back-rower also winning two Lions caps in 2005.

It does feel as though [retirement] has come a little prematurely

Mark Jones

He has been at Llanelli since 1999, but the knee injury that he suffered in December has finally forced him to quit.

"Of course I'll miss the buzz from being on the pitch, but there's fresh motivation for me now and being a full-time coach brings new pressures and with it a new level of responsibility," said Easterby.

Builth Wells flier Jones, who took over the Scarlets captaincy from Easterby last summer, has been at Llanelli for all 12 years of his career.

The 47-cap 2008 Grand Slam winner has been out since picking up the latest in a succession of knee injuries when training with Wales in November.

His role will see him coach skills both at first-team level and with a wider responsibility within the Premiership teams, academy and age-grade pathways for the region.

"It does feel as though [retirement] has come a little prematurely and I was hitting some decent form last season before the injury," said Jones, who scored 13 tries for his country after debuting against England in 2001.

"But maybe that will just leave people with fond memories of my playing career and in that sense I'm going out on a high point.

"It has been a great honour and privilege to play for my country and to be such a big part of this great club for many years... I've enjoyed every minute.

"I am really excited about the challenges ahead and what I have to offer the Scarlets now as a new coach within the set-up."

Scarlets head coach Nigel Davies added: "The key to these two appointments is that we've retained the experience and calibre of two highly distinguished and experienced rugby professionals into our regional coaching set-up."



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see also
McBryde takes Scarlets position
02 Aug 10 |  Scarlets
Scarlet wing Jones' career fear
11 Apr 10 |  Welsh
Easterby injury blow for Scarlets
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Injury blows hit Wales & Scarlets
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Wing Jones out for three months
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Scarlets hand captaincy to Jones
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Easterby quits international game
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