100 Club: The comeback kid

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If you ask a Cardiff Blues supporter to name their favourite player the likelihood is that the answers will come from a small group of names; Ellis Jenkins, Josh Navidi, Nick Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Willis Halaholo.

Without wishing to insult him right at the start of his 100 Club entry, there probably wouldn’t be a huge amount of people who would answer Lewis Jones.

However, when it comes to importance within the squad, the scrum-half should by no means be overlooked.

When splitting the Guinness Pro14 season up into blocks it’s easy to say every part of the season is crucial. Getting a good start, gaining momentum over the festive period and of course finishing the campaign well are key facets.

In truth though, seasons are made and lost in the international periods, both during the Autumn Internationals and Six Nations, when teams have to look to their squad depth to keep picking up the points when national team players are away.

Having guys like Jones, along with the likes of Rhys Gill, Scott Andrews, Macauley Cook, Steve Shingler and Dan Fish, who bring experience and a quality to the team when more recognisable faces are missing, is almost as important as making sure your first team has plenty of quality.

Cardiff Blues v Benetton Treviso - RaboDirect PRO12
Lewis Jones battles against Treviso

Individually though, the story of Lewis Jones’ journey to 100 appearances for Cardiff Blues is a pretty inspiring one.

He started out at Beddau RFC before being picked up by the regional age grade system, playing at both U16 and U18 level alongside the WRU College League and representing Wales at age grade level, but was released in 2010 aged 18.

Immediately offered a Pontypridd contract, Jones went to Sardis Road and impressed with a solid 2010/11 campaign culminating in two tries at the Millennium Stadium as Ponty beat Aberavon 35-24 in the SWALEC Cup Final.

That spell in the Premiership saw him do enough to be offered a professional contract at Cardiff Blues, and after testing the waters in 2011/12, the next two seasons would see the scrum-half make a combined 49 appearances in all competitions, scoring his first try away at Connacht.

Unfortunately Jones would suffer a second setback during his career in September 2016, as a serious knee injury ruled him out of the entire 2016/17 season and as Tomos Williams emerged as a first team player, he found playing time restricted upon his return.

More Cardiff RFC than Cardiff Blues games would follow in 2017/18, but this campaign he has enjoyed more major game time to date, appearing three of the six Heineken Champions Cup games including starting as we pushed Saracens all the way at the Arms Park.

He brings the ability to control the pace of the game from scrum-half, with a keen eye for a gap on the fringe of a breakdown and a tenacity in defence that puts him into a leadership role without the ball as well as when in possession. He also hasn’t lost that poacher’s ability over the try line.

Over the next few weeks, with Tomos Williams on Team Wales duty, Lewis Jones will have a big role to play as Cardiff Blues look to earn important points against Conference A rivals in the search for a play-off place.

At just 26 he is not on the way out by any means, and although he has experience in his back pocket with 100 appearances, there is still growth to come in his game.

More than that though he is a lesson for young players out there that hurdles can be overcome, whether that is being released or suffering serious injury, and that every time he wears the jersey he has earned it through his own hard work.

The comeback kid reaches 100…

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