End of an era: Stephen Jones to retire as player
STEPHEN Jones is calling time on his playing career after 17 years at the top level.
Wales's all-time appearance record holder will see out the season with Wasps and then become part of Dai Young's coaching team at Adams Park.
He will set aside his boots after 104 caps for his country and six for the Lions, having accumulated 970 Test points along the way.
Jones started out in senior rugby in 1996 with Llanelli, going on to enjoy two spells with the Scarlets, sandwiching a stint at Clermont Auvergne, before his switch to Wasps last summer.
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He said: "I feel incredibly lucky to have played for some fantastic sides down through the years and I feel the time is right for me now to make the transition into coaching, which is what I have always wanted to do.
"There is an opportunity for me to do that at London Wasps and I am very excited about the next step of my career.
"I want to say a huge thanks to everyone at the Scarlets, Clermont Auvergne and London Wasps – and I feel grateful to have worn three fantastic professional club shirts in my career.
"I also feel honoured to have pulled on the Wales and British and Irish Lions shirts and I appreciate everyone involved in those sides as well as the supporters who have been there and backed me throughout my playing days. I am taking with me some incredible memories and experiences."
Jones will be remembered as a fly-half for the modern game, one who made his tackles and carried ball as well as orchestrated play and kicked goals, but he has also been a gentleman off the pitch.
He featured in two Grand Slams with Wales and was viewed as an ambassador for the Welsh game with the way he conducted himself on and off the field.
London Wasps Director of Rugby Dai Young said: "I always thought Stephen would make an excellent coach and everything I have seen of him this season backs that up.
"It is sad to see him retire but what we are losing on the field we are gaining off it.
"I have always admired Stephen's tactical nous and I think he will be an excellent member of our coaching team. In the meantime we have some massive games coming up and Stephen is going to play a big part as a player in the coming months."