Mark Jones backs decision to rest fly-half Jones
December 30, 2008
Stephen Jones could return for the Scarlets against the Dragons on New Year's Day © Getty Images
The Scarlets should welcome back Wales fly-half Stephen Jones for their crunch Magners League derby with the Dragons after he was controversially rested for their last game.
Jones, the Heineken Cup's second highest scorer, watched from the sidelines as his Scarlets team-mates went down 20-6 to the Ospreys last weekend. The decision to rest the fly-half was greeted with consternation in certain quarters given the importance of the Christmas derbies in the Magners League, but has been backed by Jones' Wales colleague Mark Jones.
"Stephen needed to be rested," wing Jones told the Western Mail. "I know there were a few eyebrows raised when the decision was announced, but he has to have a rest some time.
"We have the Dragons coming up and that's a massive home game for us. "There are not a lot of opportunities to rest boys with the Six Nations coming around as well and Stephen's looking to be involved in that.
"Of course, Stephen will be missed when he's left out - he is a quality player. But hopefully we'll get more out of him in his next game because he'll be feeling more rested."
Scarlets boss Nigel Davies admitted that the decision to rest his star fly-half was motivated by a desire to ensure the player's welfare.
"I was criticised for not picking Steve but we have limited resources at the moment," Davies told the Western Mail. "We have a lot of injuries and we have to manage those resources during a very difficult period.
"When you look at the amount of time Steve has been on the pitch he has probably played more rugby than anybody else this season. He has had his international commitments and played every game for us up until the Ospreys game. We cannot expect players to turn out week-in, week-out and give us top performances. It just won't happen."
The Scarlets have a chance against the Dragons to register their second win in recent weeks after a 27-13 success over the Blues at Parc y Scarlets last week.
"I think a win over the Dragons would represent a successful Christmas and New Year period," said Jones. "Two wins out of three and we would be reasonably happy. We are going to come up against a very spirited Dragons team who will be buoyed by their performances over this period especially. Although they haven't won all their games in Europe, they have been performing particularly well.
"But we looked strong in certain aspects of our game against the Ospreys and looked like a team that's progressing. It bodes well for a good game."