He may be presently recovering from ankle surgery but Bristol back-rower Ryan Jones is refusing to rule out a return to international rugby with Wales despite dropping down into the Greene King IPA Championship this season.
The 33-year-old inspired Bristol to GKIPA Championship semi-final success over Rotherham on his debut in May but in his second appearance for the club – the first leg of the play-off final against London Welsh – he was stretchered off.
Jones is expected to return to a Bristol shirt in November, which will rule him out of Wales’ autumn internationals but with a World Cup on the horizon in 2015 the No.8 is refusing to wave the white flag just yet.
Capped 75 times by his country, with a record 33 as captain, Jones has won three Grand Slams and featured for the British and Irish Lions in 2005.
“I’d love to pull on the Wales shirt again,” he said. “The reality is that I may never do it again, but [the coaches] have got my phone number and they know where I am.
“If I’m fit and playing well and they need me they can give me a ring. My form and fitness are the only things I can control in this situation; the rest is out of my hands.
“What will be, will be, and I’ve had a wonderful career with Wales, but I’m now looking forward to this part of it.
“The World Cup is the biggest thing in the rugby calendar but it’s a massive year in the run up to it.
“The Autumn Tests run in to the Six Nations which runs in to the summer tours before the World Cup.
“As for my participation, I’ll let things like that look after myself. I’ve missed out on two already with injury and been fortunate enough to go to one.
“If I’m called upon to go to another then it would be the cherry on the cake.
“I’ve never expected to get in the Welsh squad – if you asked me four or five years ago my expectations would have been no different.
“But you always hold out hope [of getting selected]. I think I’m good enough still to play, and the day I think any different will be the day I retire.
“Whether I am good enough or not is for others to judge and I certainly won’t lose sleep over it.”
When the Greene King IPA Championship kicks-off this weekend; Jones will be no more than a spectator as he continues his rehabilitation from his ankle injury.
Bristol has a host of star names at their disposal this season, including Welsh internationals Matthew Morgan, Ian Evans and Dwayne Peel, meaning Jones will not be the only player at the club with one eye on the World Cup next year.
But for the time being Jones has vowed to be patient as he does the hard yards away from the pitch in an effort to return to full fitness.
“I won’t be playing until November but there is definitely a buzz around the place when the games come around,” added Jones. “Pre-season can be great but the novelty of it soon wears off because everyone’s got their eye on the league.
“The treatment room can be a pretty lonely place but I’m still new to the club and it’s great to be involved here.
“It’s a club with tradition and you can definitely feel the progression we’ve made over the summer with new coaches and players arriving.
“We are going to be in a better place than we were this time last year and it’s another step in the right direction for Bristol Rugby.
BACK ROW FORWARD: Jones and Bristol will be among title contenders in 2014/15
“The nature of the sport these days means you’ve got to deal with these transitions. Players have come in of a great calibre, but there’s still a core of boys here who know this league inside out who are going to drive this side forward. It’s really up to the new guys to get up to speed with them.”
Formed in 2009, the Greene King IPA Championship is the second tier of professional rugby union in England. To keep up-to-date with all the latest news follow @ChampRugby on Twitter, or visit www.rfu.com/championship