Dragons get their kicks out of Jones
DRAGONS v TREVISO (Tomorrow, KO 7.30)
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons comeback kid Steffan Jones is set to be offered a new deal amid praise for the fly-half for his match-winning exploits with the boot.
The 22-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season and has been attracting the interest of London Welsh and Wasps.
However, negotiations are ongoing with the Dragons after an impressive fortnight for the fly-half from Bargoed, who is keen to stay at Rodney Parade.
Jones booted six penalties from six to secure victory against the Ospreys before setting a regional points record of 27 at London Welsh, in the process levelling Jason Tovey’s landmark of seven penalties in one game.
“Steffan has really responded to the challenge over the last few weeks,” said head coach Darren Edwards.
“In fact, I don’t think we could have asked for more of a response – he has almost single-handedly won us two games.
“Steff is feeding off his kicking and you are going to struggle if the fly-half doesn’t want to be the main man out there and have a bit of a swagger. He is stepping up for every kick and wants to go for it.
“A weakness for us all season is that we haven’t been able to build a lead. Steff is keeping that scoreboard ticking over and keeping us in the game.
“We saw against London Welsh that we built a score and were then able to cut loose as the confidence grew.”
At the start of the year it looked inevitable that Jones, low on confidence and playing his rugby with Cross Keys, would be leaving the region in the summer.
He had been frozen out and was behind Lewis Robling and Dan Evans, a full-back by trade, in the pecking order.
The Dragons even opted to use centre Ashley Smith as their back-up 10 against Connacht.
Edwards admits that his young fly-half was a victim of problems elsewhere in the Dragons' team.
He said: “Steff is on a steep learning curve and 10 is a tough position to play.
“They are our game controller and points scorer, they work off a platform, the pace of the game, momentum.
“Things were not right in our game on many different levels and it put an enormous amount of pressure onto that position, but now we have improved our performance.”
The hunt for an experienced 10 goes on despite the strides made by Jones with the Dragons hopeful of securing the services of ex-England fly-half Andy Goode.
The 32-year-old's contract with Worcester, who yesterday signed Argentina international Ignacio Mieres, expires at the end of the season and he has been in advanced talks with the Rodney Parade region.
Edwards would not name names but confirmed that the search for a new 10 to work alongside their young talent is a priority.
“We are looking to bring quality players into our team and fly-half is a key position,” he said.
"Many of our youngsters are doing fantastically but we are coaching them off the field and there needs to be some guidance on it to take them to the next level."