Jones and Easterby call it a day
August 4, 2010
Mark Jones has been forced to retire © Getty Images
Wales wing Mark Jones has been forced to retire after a long battle with a string of knee injuries. The 30-year-old will now take up a role as skills coach with the Scarlets, his long-time region.
Jones gained 47 caps for Wales between 2001 and 2009, winning the Grand Slam in 2008. He had almost been forced to hang up his boots in the wake of the 2003 Rugby World Cup due to injury, but fought back to regain a regular place in the Wales side following his comeback game against England at Twickenham in 2006.
"It is a double-edged announcement for me and it has taken some time to consider and I suppose accept that I am hanging up my boots finally, but ultimately the decision has been made for me and I have to retire from the game," he said. "It does feel as though it has come a little prematurely and I was hitting some decent form last season before the injury, but maybe that will just leave people with fond memories of my playing career and in that sense I'm going out on a high point.
"It has been a great honour and privilege to play for my country and to be such a big part of this great club for many years, and I will look back and feel hugely proud of what I've achieved and experienced in rugby across the world. I've enjoyed every minute."
Jones has been followed into the backroom staff by Irish flanker Simon Easterby, 35, who combined playing with his role as defence coach last season. Easterby won 65 caps for Ireland and two for the British & Irish Lions in 2005, also playing over 200 games for Llanelli and the Scarlets.
"I've had lots of individual challenges in my life and this is a new one," he said. "I have always pushed myself hard and set myself high standards. I have been given this great new opportunity and hopefully I'll retain the respect and integrity I've had over my playing career with our group of players and help them achieve more next season.
"Of course I'll miss the buzz from being on the pitch, but there's fresh motivation for me now and being a full-time coach brings new pressures and with it a new level of responsibility."