He worked for a while in the Wales senior set-up, had a spell at Worcester Warriors and is now loving being back on the field as head coach to the Wales U20 squad at the World Rugby Junior Championships in South Africa.
Parachuted in at late notice when Bryon Hayward decided to stand down, he couldn’t have asked for a tougher start with an opening game against New Zealand.
“I’m loving being back involved in coaching. I had a lot of opportunities after Worcester to go overseas, and had some offers from closer to home, but didn’t really feel like they were the right fit for myself and the family,” said the former Wales Grand Slam wing.
“When I got the call from Huw Bevan for this job, I just felt I could help this group a little bit. I didn’t want them to go to their World Cup under prepared.
“I wanted to make sure they go to South Africa and do themselves and the country proud. They need to lift their heads high, not worry about previous results and see the opportunities that are ahead of them.”
Ryan Woodman’s men went through a tough time in the U20 Six Nations, losing every game for the first time. They put themselves in a position to win a couple of the games and now find themselves facing New Zealand, France and Japan in their pool in South Africa.
“We’ve looked back at the Six Nations and there were things that went well, and other bits that we need to improve on. We’ve gone after those pretty hard for the last three and a half weeks.
“You can’t fix everything all at once, but I’m confident that this group of players will be able to put the Six Nations behind them and treat this tournament as a one-off. They all want to put their best game out on the field and really try and show that they’ve improved in a short space of time.
“I think that’s going to be the measure of us, have we improved, are we better as individuals and does the team look like it’s going in the right direction? We’re definitely going to get answers to those questions because we’re playing New Zealand, France and Japan – there aren’t any better yardsticks for us than that.”
One of the big messages Jones has been trying to get through to his players is to be bold and brave on the counterattack. With so much pace and talent available to him in the back division, he wants to maximise his potential.
“Counterattack is definitely an area of the game from which I think we can produce more points. We’re hoping that the conditions will be decent enough to allow us to move the ball around a little bit.
“I think there’s an opportunity for us to improve from the unstructured side of the game. The boys have shown a great appetite to try and get stuck into that.
“They were pretty dangerous off set piece during the Six Nations and there are areas of the game we can grow, and build upon. My philosophy around the game is it’s a ball in hand game.
“It’s a game that when you have possession, you’re in the best position. Possession really dictates the pace of the game and where the game is played.
“It’s how you use that possession that’s important. Possession is no good if you’re messing around on the halfway line or in your own half, wasting all your energy – you need to make sure that you’ve got the possession in the right areas as well.”