HUW Jones will return to Glasgow in the summer after just a year away, and believes that despite the brevity of his absence he is coming back as a more well-rounded player.
The Scotland centre, now 28, was originally meant to leave the Warriors for Bayonne last season after four seasons at Scotstoun. However, that deal fell through when the French club were relegated, and he moved to Harlequins instead.
Jones has made a significant impact in his time with the London club, and has played nearly 30 games for them so far. But the chance to sign a multi-year deal with the Warriors and to be reunited with a lot of old friends and team-mates has persuaded him to come back.
"I’m really looking forward to going back to Glasgow," Jones said yesterday[Wed] on the Warriors website. “I lived there for five years and I made a lot of friends and memories, and I’m looking forward to making more both on and off the field in the seasons ahead. There’s a great core group of players at Glasgow that want to take the club forward and I’m really keen to be a part of that.
“I’ve gained a lot of valuable experience playing for Harlequins this season and I’m excited to return and show how I’ve developed as a player, and to pull on the Glasgow Warriors jersey again.”
Born in Edinburgh, Jones began his rugby career in South Africa and won his first national cap as a Stormers player the year before he signed for Glasgow in 2017. He enhanced his reputation as an incisive attacker during his first couple of seasons in Scotland, but latterly under head coach Dave Rennie he was frustrated by his lack of game time.
If that frustration precipitated his departure, his desire to win more recognition for the national team has to be a factor in his return. It remains to be seen if his versatility will be a help or a hindrance to his plans to get more game time with Gregor Townsend’s squad, but current Warriors coach Danny Wilson certainly sees it as one of his biggest strengths. He said: “We’re really excited to bring Huw back to the club. Huw has shown for both Glasgow, and more recently for Harlequins, he is a real attacking presence at both 13 and 15.
“We wanted to add to our midfield to bring depth to an already strong position. And the fact Huw can genuinely play other outside back positions will further enhance our squad depth for next season.”
Whether Jones and Glasgow will be playing in the Champions Cup next season will be decided at the weekend when they play Edinburgh in the last match of the regular URC season. The teams are level on points in seventh and eighth position respectively in the 16-team table, and a win for the Warriors will not only book their place in European rugby’s premier competition but also see them retain the 1872 Cup. They hold a 13-point lead from the first leg at Scotstoun.
Glasgow tighthead prop Simon Berghan is one of several players who could be lining up against their former team at BT Murrayfield on Saturday, and although the players’ familiarity with each other has at times been criticised for producing a predictable contest, he believes it actually makes things more competitive.
“It does bring a slightly different dynamic when you play against your old team,” Berghan said. “It’s quite fun actually.
“I know a lot of the guys at Edinburgh really well and I’m really good friends with them. But it’ll still be war for 80 minutes. It was the same when we played them at our place earlier in the season.
“There’s always a lot of sledging goes on in these games. I’ll be getting well involved in that.
“When I look at the team-sheet now, there’s a lot of different names compared to when I was there. A lot of guys I played with in the past have left. It’s a different Edinburgh than what I’m used to, but it’ll still be nice to see a few old faces and have a battle at the weekend.”