NEW head coach Chris Jones is backing centre Mark Jennings to be a ‘fantastic addition’ on and off the pitch at Wilmslow Rugby Club.

Jones replaces the departed Rick Jones as top dog following relegation to North One West, while Jennings, who has played in the Premiership with Sale Sharks, will be available for selection as well as taking on the role as backs coach.

Former England under 20s international Jennings, 26, signed for Sharks 10 years ago and made 95 top-flight appearances before it was announced by the club in February that he would be taking a ''sabbatical'' from professional rugby for the ''foreseeable future''.

In March, following a drunken domestic dispute the previous month, Namibian-born Jennings was sentenced to a 12-month community order after admitting assaulting an emergency worker and using threatening behaviour.

The former Lymm High School student has since said in a statement on Twitter, while apologising for his ‘unforgiveable behaviour that day’, that he is ‘fighting his demons’, which include a troubled childhood, issues with alcohol and an addiction to painkillers.

Jones says he is excited to be able to call upon the talents of Jennings, who will be competing in a white collar boxing event at Parrs Wood Sports Centre in Didsbury on July 20 in aid of RSPCA, as both a player and a coach as he embarks on a new dual-role career.

“As many of you will be aware Mark is a Premiership standard centre who has played at Sale Sharks for the last 10 years, since he was 16,” said Jones.

“He has had a couple of well documented transgressions off the pitch but has settled in Wilmslow with his partner and young family and is keen to join our club, contribute and more importantly enjoy his rugby again.

“He will no doubt prove to be a fantastic addition in terms of adding to the skills and dynamism of the backs division as well as bringing top level experience to the coaching set up.”

Evergreen Rick Hughes will also be supporting Jones both on and off the field in the new coaching set-up.

First-team manager Mike Blackett said: “In Chris Jones we’ve been able to secure the services of a man with Wilmslow Wolves in his heart, ably supported by another who was wearing a Sale Sharks shirt but a few months ago.

“And in retaining the services of Hughsie, and all his years of first-team nous, we can boast a cracking coaching line-up for next season."

Jones was in the Wolves squad at the start of last season but suffered a campaign-ending injury in the first game, while the team struggled to make a mark on their first ever season in the North Premier.

“I’m delighted to have been given this opportunity,” he said.

“I look forward to bringing new ideas to the training ground.

“Last season was a real test for the whole squad and for the club in its entirety, but Mark, Rick and myself are looking forward to making a new start, in a league packed with local rivals, working with some very talented and charismatic players.”

Rick Jones was head coach at Wilmslow for seven years before accepting a similar role at his home club Macclesfield for next season.

Blackett said: “We must thank Rick Jones for the commitment he’s put into coaching and developing the senior squad over the past seven seasons.

“He’s been a great asset to the Wolves but we knew that when Macclesfield came knocking, it would be too tempting an opportunity for him to turn down.”