Then and now: The supply line to a legend

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Robert Jones, Wales scrum-half past

Age 31. Caps 54. Wales's most capped scrum-half. Played three Tests for the Lions in Australia in 1989.

He was a pleasure to play with, a major talent. He had so much confidence and ability, and that helped me to settle in. The fact that he was already a marked man allowed me room to play.

I found him easy to partner. We had a rapport both on and off the field. He communicated well and was very reliable. He was always where I expected him to be. He's constantly talking to you, telling you where he wants the pass, looking to attack and run with the ball. He loves to make decisions and control the game.

We're good friends and I spoke to him the morning of his selection. His return has generated enormous attention. People talk about it everywhere. I was on a train and a Welsh fan sitting in front of me was chasing a ticket on his mobile phone just because of Jonathan.

He has tremendous belief in his own ability. Against England in Cardiff once, Jonathan got the ball and ran around Micky Skinner, who was desperately trying to tackle him. Skinner didn't touch him, of course, and as Jonathan went by he shouted "dabo", which means goodbye in Welsh.

Peter Winterbottom used to glare at him, and Jonathan would look back and smile. I remember playing in a Sevens match against New Zealand only two days after arriving in Australia. We were all knackered but Jonathan beat them on his own, scoring two or three tries. I've never seen anyone play as well in Sevens. He was incredible.

Playing league has matured him and given him more experience and more variety. He set a standard which unfortunately no one matched after he moved to league. Look at the number of outside-halves Wales have had since. In my last 30 internationals I had 10 different outside-halves.

His selection at 34 gives hope to this 31-year-old, yet it represents a change of policy by the Welsh coach Kevin Bowring, who was adamant about building to the next World Cup. But Jonathan has arrogance, confidence and experience, and he'll get the best out of the players around him just by being on the field. It must be short-term - I can't see him going on to 1999 - but if he plays for four or five months, then whoever takes over the No 10 jersey will step into a far more committed side.

Robert Howley, Wales scrum-half present

Age 26. Caps 8. Dramatic impact since debut against England in February. Davies's club partner at Cardiff

Jonathan is an enigma with so much to offer. When he returned to Cardiff he struggled, but this season he's gone from strength to strength. For the last few games he's been first-class. His talent is exceptional and he takes the pressure off me.

After being away for so long he got into situations he wasn't used to. But he's confident now, kicking into the corners and taking on the back row. We've both helped each other. We wanted to take Cardiff by storm this season and were determined to establish ourselves.

Cardiff are at the forefront of European rugby and Jonathan produced a wonderful winning drop goal against Wasps. We were a point down with a minute remaining; the ball came to me, I passed to Jonathan and he kicked it over right-footed from 40 metres. Only a class player could have done that. He kicked terribly throughout the game then pulled that off.

We have a good understanding, and hopefully that will work in our favour against Australia. It won't be easy because an international is a big step up. Playing with him for Wales is a dream come true. It's like the Messiah coming back into Welsh rugby.

Jonathan is looking forward to it, but he'll be nervous about pulling on the red jersey again after eight years. He always gets nervous, but if you aren't nervous at this level there's something wrong with you. As soon as I can against Australia I'll pass to him - it's important he gets an early touch.

He likes to run on to the ball whereas Neil Jenkins stands still to take it. If my pass can take out the open-side flanker, Jonathan has the option of running or passing. I won my first cap with Arwel Thomas, but compared with Neil and Jonathan he's still a boy. Jonathan is far more experienced than me - he's been there and done it all. He gives me confidence because the opposition back row and back line have to watch us and their attention is split.

We've become great friends, going out for meals together and talking a lot on the phone. After his selection I rang him up. He sensed what the build-up would be like. There'll be a lot of pressure on him but I told him to switch off. We'll get our heads together nearer the time.

Interviews by Paul Trow

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