British Lions and Wales international outside half Stephen Jones has delighted Scarlets supporters by confirming that he has signed an extension to his contract with the West Wales rugby region today (Fri 16th April 2010).
The talented, world-class no 10 has now secured his position with the Scarlets until the end of the 2012 season, in a move by Head Coach Nigel Davies to secure the experience of one of Europe’s most sought-after fly-halves.
Delighted with the extended contract, career Scarlet Jones said it was a great boost to him personally to have agreed terms with his region to secure his role for the next two years.
He said: "I am delighted to have signed an extended contract, as I’ve said all along, I have always wanted to continue my regional career with the Scarlets and now that has been agreed, and we can look forward in a very positive way.
"This region has plenty to build on for the future, we have a great group of talented young players who are coming through very strongly and will only grow in experience from all the game time that they have had this season.
"The philosophy and determination the Scarlets have in developing Welsh talent from within the region, is something I firmly believe in – it’s good for the Scarlets and a positive move for Welsh rugby.
"As a player that’s been part of this great Scarlets region over a decade, it’s important to me to see this team develop further and I hope I can lend my experience to the team and support the younger squad members going forward.
"This squad is strong – there is a great team spirit, work ethic and energy amongst the younger guys and it will be good to keep this team together and build into next season. It’s definitely going in the right direction and while we may be facing some pressure at the moment, there is a lot to be positive about in the longer term. I’m just really looking forward to playing my part in helping accelerate the transition of this squad over the next two years."
Head Coach Nigel Davies said the move to secure the services of Jones was one that was hugely important to the future of the region.
Davies said: "We are really pleased to have come to this agreement with Steve. He is a crucial part of our future, has been an integral part of this team for some time and as one of the most experienced Scarlets of all time, we know he has a lot to give both on and off the field at this stage in his career. He is a committed Scarlet, believes in our values and what we are trying to achieve and has a big influence on this squad going forward.
"With such a young squad, it is important that we retain key experience, knowledge and influence in our team from our senior players who not only perform on the pitch and set an example, but can help build the confidence and nurture the talent of our up and coming players. His motivation to stay with us is built on much more than just which competitions we are in and he’s a valuable member of our team here."
The news comes ahead of the Scarlets crucial home tie in the big Welsh derby on Saturday evening when the Cardiff Blues visit Parc y Scarlets in the Magners League (kick off 6.30pm).
Jones who has been a committed Scarlets player for more than a decade is just 17 points from achieving the crown as the highest-ever Scarlets point scorer overtaking Andy Hill’s tally of 2596.
Jones, 32, born in Aberystwyth, and currently living in Carmarthenshire joined the Llanelli Scarlets in 1996, staying there until the 2003/04 season. He then played for Clemont Auvergne for two seasons with great success before returning back to the Scarlets in 2006. He has made a total of 277 appearances for Llanelli and the Scarlets.
He was part of the dream Scarlets team that had a great run in the Heineken Cup of 2007 reaching the semi-finals after wins home and away against Ulster and Toulouse and a home victory against 2006 winners Munster in the quarter-finals.
Jones made his international debut for Wales in 1998 against South Africa and is Wales second highest ever point scorer on 794 points with 88 international caps.
In the recent 2010 Six Nations tournament, Jones led the field as the top points scorer of the campaign.
His career credentials include two British and Irish Lions Tours (2005 & 2009), he was the third player to top 500 points in the Heineken Cup. He led Wales U21 to Grand Slam victory and was Captain of Wales at U18 level.