Jones pleased to be back and in contention
After 22 months of injury woes, Lee Jones’ walked onto the pitch in a Warriors jersey for the first time in almost two years on Sunday evening’s game away to Cardiff Blues at Rodney Parade.
Watching the three-time commonwealth athlete in the game, you wouldn’t have thought his last game was way back in January 2019.
Jones’ journey back has been long and not without its hiccups, but Lee was primed and ready to go when his time finally came.
“I was hoping to potentially get a run in the next few weeks,” said Jones.
“All the wingers are fit at the moment, so you can never go into a meeting expecting to be in the team. It was a bit of a surprise, to be honest.
“It’s been a long time – 22 months without pulling on a jersey is a long time.
“I was confident in my rehab – fit and good to go. It was a real boost of confidence that the coaches were keen to throw me in there. I was buzzing.
“The excitement builds in the week leading up to the game. It’s interesting after being out for so long, you’re focused on your rehab that the excitement does start to build and the enthusiasm to get back out there.”
When you take an extended break from anything and return you notice the little things. It was no different for Lee.
“It’s funny because the whole process of even getting to the game I enjoyed. I hadn’t been on the bus to go to the airport for an away game – even little things like that I hadn’t done it in a while, so it was almost new.
“I turned up to the airport with Charline’s [Lee’s wife] passport, so I almost didn’t come but luckily you only need a driver’s license to fly within the UK,” he chuckles.
“The whole thing was a bit surreal. Game day was standard. There are always nerves, but I was just really excited more than anything.
“I was confident of going into the game and executing, so it was probably more excitement than nerves.”
Lee certainly executed. Wearing the number 14 shirt he made dominant one-on-one tackles, carried hard and linked up well with the full-back Glenn Bryce and winger Ratu Tagive, drawing praise from co-commentator and Wales legend Shane Williams.
“I thought we were in a good spot when I came off. We had dominated large periods of the game. It was in the balance at that point,” said the winger.
“We had that good energy and I was confident that the boys could finish off. Huw did a great job of that intercept off the back of a good defensive set.”
When asked about his performance Lee said: “It’s hard going back into a game. There were areas where I felt a wee bit rusty, but I was just keen to bring some real energy to the game.
“I’ve missed playing and I wanted to put everything out there.
“I had more to do on the defensive side of things and we had a real focus on that during the week. I was pleased with my defence and pleased to get through the game and help contribute to a win that we really needed.”
For a man who hadn’t played a game of professional rugby for almost two years, Lee should certainly be pleased with his performance. The man from Selkirk’s impressive defensive effort and ten carries for 73 metres saw him named the Guinness PRO14 Player of the Match.
Laughing about being given the award Lee said: “With about 10 minutes to go the old camera came along and I thought – here we go better sort the hair for the camera.”
Smiling he continues: “But Nah I was really surprised. It was a nice gesture.
“The boys were buzzing to get the win, especially away from home. I think the few losses before makes you appreciate that win even more. It just brings everything into focus.
“The amount that gone in over the season, it’s nice to get the reward with a win. The boys are working hard week in week out and it was nice for it all to come together against a tough Cardiff side.”
On Saturday Glasgow welcome Dragons to Scotstoun and when asked if he plans to back up, Lee isn’t getting ahead of himself.
“It’s really competitive on the wing at the moment. Almost everyone is fit and putting their hand up for selection in training. I’m just pleased to be back playing and in contention.
“It will be a tough game. If you look at the league position we’re sitting tied with Dragons at the moment. It’s a big opportunity to jump ahead of them in the table.
“They had a good win over Treviso on the weekend. It’s a good opportunity to back up a win and get going with the league points.”