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Rugby-Former Wales winger Jones joins Crusaders' coaching staff

WELLINGTON, Jan 13 (Reuters) – Canterbury Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has again gone overseas to complete his coaching group with former Wales winger Mark Jones named as the defensive coach on a two-year contract for the 10-times Super Rugby champions.

The 40-year-old Jones will also work with the Canterbury provincial side, the Crusaders said in a statement on Monday.

Former Ireland flyhalf Ronan O’Gara spent two seasons under Robertson at the Crusaders before heading to France to take over at La Rochelle after last year’s successful Super Rugby campaign.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for me to continue my development as a coach, with organisations that are highly regarded worldwide as setting a benchmark in provincial and Super Rugby,” Jones said in a statement on Monday.

“It’s a big step for myself and my family to move to New Zealand, but the chance to be involved in the game at grassroots level through to Super Rugby, and work alongside world class coaches and players at Rugby Park, was too good to miss.”

Jones earned 47 caps for Wales before being forced to retire in 2010 following a succession of knee injuries that affected his playing career and moved directly into coaching with Welsh regional team Scarlets.

He was also an assistant to Warren Gatland with the Wales national team from 2012-13 before he took head coaching roles at lower-level sides in England and Wales.

Jones was also an assistant to Phil Davies with Namibia for last year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.

“We believe Mark is going to provide a real point of difference to the Crusaders, with his Northern Hemisphere skill set and extensive game knowledge,” Robertson said of his new assistant.

“I’m confident he’ll connect quickly with our playing group and will be a huge asset over the next two seasons.”

The Crusaders begin their pursuit of a fourth successive Super Rugby title this season against the New South Wales Waratahs in Christchurch on Feb. 1.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Stephen Coates

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