GLASGOW have accepted that Huw Jones will leave the club in the summer after the 27-year-old Scotland international turned down their offer of a new contract. Jones, who moved to the Warriors from South Africa in 2017, is reported to have agreed terms with French club Bayonne.
“I know we had been discussing a contract with him, but he’s obviously decided not to take that and he’ll be moving on to other pastures,” Glasgow assistant coach Kenny Murray said yesterday. “He’s a big player for us who’s played well over the last few years both at 15 and 13. But he’s decided to move on and we need to move on as a club as well.
“We’ve looked to make moves to do that already. It’s disappointing to see any player go, but we believe we’ve got some exciting players coming in as well.”
Jones’ fortunes have fluctuated in his three and a half years with the Warriors. He arrived as a full Scotland international with a reputation as an excellent attacker, and established himself in the team in his primary position of outside centre.
There was considerable talk of him leaving after he appeared to fall out of favour with Dave Rennie, but once the former head coach gave him a run of games things settled down. More recently, he has moved from 13 to full-back – although he is back in the former position for tomorrow’s PRO14 match against Leinster.
The squad for the game at the RDS gives an indicate of what Murray meant when he talked of the club moving on. Ollie Smith comes in for his first start at full-back, former New Zealand Under-20 cap Cole Forbes will make his debut on the left wing, and right-winger Rufus McLean will be making just his third appearance.
Forbes is Scottish-qualified, and although loath to make a firm prediction about the winger’s career trajectory, Murray has been very impressed by what he has seen so far. “I think he needs to prove himself here – he’s not played yet. We’ve only seen him play in some clips, but from what I’ve seen he looks like a guy with potential to step up to that level.
“I’d wait until I see him play for us in that pro environment before he’s pushed forward to play any higher up, but I’ve really enjoyed watching him in training. He’s got a real physicality about his game, he reads the game really well, particularly defensively, and he’s got that sort of New Zealand confidence.
“Who knows? He could be the next to move up to the international level.”
Meanwhile, Zander Fagerson is among those players listed as unavailable, and Murray thinks this game could count as one of the four matches the tighthead prop must miss as a result of his four-game ban being upheld by a Six Nations appeal committee. “He didn’t get his ban overturned, but my understanding of what has happened is that this game would potentially count,” the coach added. “Scotland have released nine players back to us, Zander could have played if we’d wanted him this week, so yeah, my understanding is that’s the case.”
The France match was due to be one of the games Fagerson would miss after being red-carded against Wales. However, the appeal committee said on Thursday that they would issue a definitive ruling after a new date for that match is announced.