Ruddock dreams of Jones return

Wales head coach Mike Ruddock is hoping British & Irish Lion Stephen Jones leaves Clermont Auvergne at the end of the season and moves back home. [more]

Lions Australia Tour 2013

Wales head coach Mike Ruddock is hoping British & Irish Lion Stephen Jones leaves Clermont Auvergne at the end of the season and moves back home.

Jones’ contract in France expires in the summer and the fly-half believes his time in France has made him a better player, but with the World Cup looming at the end of next season Ruddock is anxious to have his best players back in Wales.

"I’d be hugely pleased to see Stephen come back to Wales," said Ruddock.

"I want to see all our best players playing in Wales. I believe it is in their best interests.

"With the rugby charter which has been agreed between the Welsh Rugby Union and the regions I think we have a good model which means each player can be developed as a top rugby player and a top athlete within Wales.

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"In Stephen’s case, in France he would not have had the same period of rest, recovery and conditioning after the Lions tour that the Welsh-based players benefited from. The same applies to Gareth Thomas (who plays for Toulouse).

"We have a good working relationship with the clubs outside Wales, but players can be caught in the middle, having to jump on planes after international matches, playing more games over a longer season and there is only a certain amount of time a player can sustain that intensity."

Jones and Thomas both arrived late on the Lions tour because of the length of the French domestic season.

They both featured heavily in the Test series – Thomas was captain for the second two – and were back in club action just six weeks after returning home from New Zealand.

"Under the charter each player has a recognised game limit for the season.

"There is an enforceable pre-season of rest and recovery followed by a conditioning period without game-time which builds strength and speed," Ruddock added.

"We also have a good relationship with our regions on all aspects of medical and nutritional care and we have regular testing days which allows us to keep track of the players development."

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