Jones better than ever

Lions legend Phil Bennett believes fly-half Stephen Jones has returned from the recent tour of South Africa an even better player than before he left. [more]

Jones better than ever

Lions legend Phil Bennett believes fly-half Stephen Jones has returned from the recent tour of South Africa an even better player than before he left.

Jones started all three Tests against the Springboks this summer as he enhanced his already impressive reputation on his second successive Lions tour.

And Bennett, who skippered the Lions on their 1977 tour of New Zealand, says his fellow Llanelli man should now be considered one of the world’s best.

"Stephen has returned from South Africa a far more confident player as he orchestrated crucial games well and kicked pressure kicks,” Bennet told BBC Wales’ Scrum V radio show.

"His game-management has always been outstanding but the way he controlled the Lions back division which included the likes of Brian O’Driscoll was excellent.

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"He has added a new dimension to his game I feel.

"He is a more rounded player now, he has grown in stature and I’d put him in the top five fly-halves in the world.”

Jones returns to action for the first time since July when the Scarlets take on Ulster at Ravenhill this evening, with Bennett confident that the former Clermont Auvergne star can help the West Wales region return to winning ways.

The Scarlets have lost their last three matches while fielding an inexperienced side but Bennett believes the return of their most-treasured asset can help them turn the corner.

"Stephen will be a massive boost to the Scarlets," added Bennett, who spent 16 seasons representing Llanelli in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s.

"It is a massive boost for the Scarlets to have him back among the youngsters.

"Stephen is not going to be running it from everywhere but he will add experience that the Scarlets have badly missed, play his way back in quietly and hopefully kick vital goals that have cost the Scarlets in their defeats so far this season.

"I sincerely hope Scarlets fans don’t think he can be the miracle man and win games on his own..but hopefully he can add experience that has been missing from their back-line and make important goal kicks.

"And I expect Stephen to show that authority at Ulster.”

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