Jones eager to shine
Wales flanker Dafydd Jones is determined to make the most of his second chance at international level.
Last Updated: 02/06/08 4:38pm
Wales flanker Dafydd Jones is determined to make the most of his second chance at international level when he pulls on his country's jersey again against South Africa on Saturday.
Jones has spent two years in the international wilderness but the 28-year-old returns to the fold with a start in South Africa.
The Llanelli Scarlets man was a fixture in the Welsh back row during 2003 and 2004, but loss of form and injuries saw him slip out of the picture.
Although he missed out on Wales' Grand Slam glory this year, injuries have this time give Jones the chance to impress coach Warren Gatland - a chance he is determined to take.
"It's surprising how quickly things have changed," said Jones. "I wasn't in the Six Nations but here I am starting Saturday's Test."
"It's been a while since I last played for Wales but there has been a lot of water under the bridge since then. I've worked very hard.
"At Llanelli we haven't had the best of years but on a personal note towards the end of the season I felt comfortable, was happy with my form and enjoyed my rugby.
"It's been one of those seasons where you didn't want it to end.
"Things haven't always gone my way on the pitch but I've always believed in myself."
With the likes of Martyn Williams, Robin Sowden-Taylor and Ben Lewis all injured, Gatland opted for Jones to fill the void after being impressed with the way he ended the season.
Jones did cheer on his country during the Six Nations, but was desperate to pull on the red jersey again and their success only made him try harder for a return.
"It was awesome to watch the Six Nations from the outside and now that I'm in the squad it doesn't surprise me what Wales achieved," added Jones.
"When you're not part of the squad you wish all the boys the best but there's a part of you that wishes you were there too. That feeling drives you.
"Sometimes I tried to make things happen and they didn't. I felt like I didn't have much opportunity."
Wales need a big performance to match the world champions on their home patch, especially considering they have never won a Test in South Africa.
Jones admits that he faces a tough task in replacing Williams, but he has vowed not to let anyone down in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
"I've played across the back row for club and country. I've played at seven twice this season," he said.
"But at Llanelli we play left and right, so I'm familiar enough with it so there are no dramas there.
"I've got some massive boots to fill in Martyn Williams. I've played with him and against him and have nothing but respect for him. He's a great player and a great bloke.
"All I can do is do my best for the team on Saturday. We're different kind of players and I'm confident that I have something else to offer."
The squad will remain in Cape Town until Friday when they head to Bloemfontein for the opening Test against the Springboks.