Stephen Jones reveals 'shock' at sudden Wales Rugby World Cup call-up after Rob Howley' exit

Wales coach says players have welcomed him into the group after his 'manic' arrival in Japan

Wales' new attack coach Stephen Jones has been called into Rugby World Cup action after Rob Howley was sent home from Japan over betting allegations. AFP
Wales' new attack coach Stephen Jones has been called into Rugby World Cup action after Rob Howley was sent home from Japan over betting allegations. AFP

Wales attack coach Stephen Jones admitted on Tuesday that his Rugby World Cup call-up was a "a bit of a shock" after he was a last-minute replacement for Rob Howley, who was axed in a betting row.

Jones said he was at home in Cardiff when he received the surprise call, after Howley was sent home just days before the tournament to answer accusations of illegal betting.

He joined the Wales camp in Toyota City last week after Howley, Wales' attack coach under Warren Gatland since 2008, left to face an investigation.

He had been due to replace Howley after the World Cup, when Gatland is also stepping down to coach the Waikato Chiefs in New Zealand.

"It was a bit of a shock," said Jones, the former Wales and British and Irish Lions fly-half, adding that he would have been doing the school run this week if he hadn't flown out to Japan.

"When I got the call it was pretty much a straight-away decision. Very fortunate I've got a supportive wife as well, so it was an instant decision.

"It's been manic if I'm honest but what a wonderful welcome I've had from the boys and management when I arrived in Toyota.

"It's been fantastic from my end how I've been welcomed into that group. I'm fortunate in the sense that I've worked with a number of the players before and management.

"A lot of the senior players were excellent, they grabbed the helm and took the lead in a lot of the sessions from my end which was great."

After Wales saw off Georgia 43-14 in their Pool D opener, they go into a tough meeting with two-time world champions Australia in Tokyo on Sunday.

It will be the first major test for the Six Nations champions after they were forced to hastily reorganise following the Howley affair.

Wales centre Hadleigh Parkes fractured a bone in his hand against Georgia, but should be fit for Sunday's showdown.

Coach Warren Gatland confirmed the Kiwi-born midfielder had suffered "a bit of a bone fracture."

Gatland will be hoping Parkes can take the field against the Wallabies given his key role in midfield, where he has forged a potent partnership in both defence and attack with Jonathan Davies.

"They think he'll be okay to pad that up and it shouldn't be an issue for next week," Gatland said of Parkes. "Guys are a bit battered and sore as you'd expect after playing a tough, physical team like Georgia."

Updated: September 24, 2019 02:20 PM

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