Stephen Jones (pictured) was one of the first names on the list of players heading for Wales’ second pre-Rugby World Cup training camp in Spala, Poland next week.
The Wales and British & Irish Lions fly-half, who won his 100th cap in the match against the Barbarians at the Millennium Stadium in June, missed the first trip to be at the birth of his first child.
But he will now turn his attention to achieving selection for Wales’ 30-man RWC squad – to be announced on 22 August – and bid to feature in the warm-up matches against England (twice) and Argentina next month.
His first task, however, is to negotiate the -140C temperatures of the Cryotherapy chambers at the Olympic training venue and show his form in the intense rugby, skills and conditioning sessions on the camp.
“I have been in the Cryotherapy chambers before and I’ve also spoken to a few of the boys this week on their return from that first camp so I know what to expect,” said Jones.
“You are able to work very hard and pack a lot into your training day, which is invaluable, but there is no magic wand to be waved, it’s just going to be a lot of hard work for all of us.”
Jones has had a busy week, added to the odd sleepless night with his newborn baby he will, tomorrow (Friday), open his new restaurant in the old North Docks area of Llanelli – a Welsh seasonal bistro called Sosban, which he co-owns with fellow international Dwayne Peel and two other business partners.
“At the moment I’m still very much enjoying my rugby and the challenges that life as international rugby player brings,” said Jones.
“We have three tough matches coming up next month, which should be ideal preparation for the World Cup.
“I’m still feeling good and the body feels good, but in reality I can’t look past the next week.
“What’s great is that there is so much competition for places in the squad and healthy competition gives the coaches selection issues, which is ideal for them and for the side in general.”
At 33-years-old Jones has faced England on numerous occasions in his 13-year career and has two relatively recent home victories, in 2005 and 2009, under his belt, but he still has the thirst for more.
“The win in ‘05 obviously brings back fond memories as it led to our first Grand Slam for 30 years,” added Jones.
“Success in ‘09 was great as well and a number of that squad is still with Wales today, fuelled by the competition from a host of quality youngsters coming through.
“The three World Cup warm-up matches will be perfect preparation for our campaign in New Zealand.
“It’s all about momentum and we need to be able to hit the ground running against South Africa in that first match and we want to be approaching that game on the back of good performances against England and Argentina.”
Jones’ son, Seb Joseff Jones, was born to fiancé Gwen in Cardiff’s Heath Hospital at 9.15pm on Friday, 8 July, weighing 8lbs.
Wales announced the rest of the 35-man party attending the training camp in Poland this morning.
On return from Spala, further announcements will follow in relation to the RWC warm-up fixtures against England at Twickenham on 6 August, the return fixture at the Millennium Stadium on 13 August and Argentina’s visit to the Welsh capital on 20 August.
The announcements and the eventual 30-man RWC squad, to be announced on 22 August, may include any player named in the original extended squad list and is not limited to those on this particular training camp in Poland.
Tickets to the Wales vs England Rugby World Cup warm-up match at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday 13 August (kick-off 2.30pm) are priced £30 and tickets to the Wales vs Argentina on Saturday 20 August (kick-off 2.30pm) are priced at £25 and are on a ‘buy one get one free’ promotion.