The 28-year-old ASM Clermont Auvergne outside half launched his Test career as a 50th minute replacement against the Springboks at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, on 27 June, 1998 in a game that saw Wales slump to a record 96-13 defeat. Since then he has figured in two World Cups, played for the British & Irish Lions, steered Wales to a first Grand Slam in 27 years with 57 points in 2005 and extended his Welsh tally to 444 points.
Jones's return, after playing in the French Championship last weekend, is one of five changes to the starting line-up from the team who beat Fiji 11-10 last Friday. Gareth Thomas also returns from France to lead the side for the second time in the Series, although he will join Sonny Parker at centre rather than resume at full back.
It will be the Welsh skipper's 15th outing at centre for his country and his 85th appearance. Other changes behind the scrum see the 30-year-old Dafydd James bridge a three-year gap since his last cap as he takes over from the injured Kevin Morgan on the right wing.
Wales head coach Mike Ruddock recalled veteran British Lions and Wales wing James to squad duty this week as cover for recent injuries after observing "he looks more like his old self" after returning from NEC Harlequins for a second spell with the Llanelli Scarlets this season.
James last played for Wales in the 43-17 home defeat to New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium on 23 November, 2002 under former coach Steve Hansen. But the triple-capped 2001 Lion joins Colin Charvis and captain Thomas as one of a trio of players given a second chance to defeat the Springboks after all three featured in Wales' only victory over South Africa, the 29-19 inaugural Millennium Stadium win on 26 June, 1999.
"Dafydd brings a wealth of experience to the table, along with international size and physique, he also has the kind of attack defensive qualities which are the keys to building a performance combative South African outfit on Saturday," said Ruddock. "We've been keeping an eye on him and, whilst we felt his time at Harlequins didn't bring out the best in him last season, his class has shown through and he's been more like his old self since returning to the Scarlets."
Up front, there are two changes to the starting eight against the Fijians. Rob Sidoli returns to partner Luke Charteris in the second row following Brent Cockbain's hamstring operation and Colin Charvis returns to play at blindside flanker after playing for his club, Newcastle Falcons, last weekend.
Cardiff Blues hooker Rhys Thomas and Worcester Warriors prop Chris Horsman retain their places in the starting line-up after impressing Ruddock and his coaching team with their powerful displays against Fiji, while Scarlets full back Lee Byrne also gets another chance to shine from the start.
"Lee offers us a big left boot to compliment Stephen Jones as a kicking option and, most impressively, he has come into the side in difficult circumstances and slotted in extremely well to the international environment and not looked out of place," said Ruddock. "We obviously had a decisions to make at centre, full-back and wing, but we feel we have come up with the right balance for this game.
"Rhys Thomas has earned a starting spot, based on some excellent performances on the summer tour, in training and in these autumn internationals we feel he has played himself into the team.
"In the second row we have gone for Charteris and Sidoli which gives us extra height and ability in the lineout, but it is a 22-man game these days and we will fully utilise the bench when necessary.
"Our rationale has been to go for a team that has the potential to play the exciting brand of rugby that we associate with the Welsh team and a team that can adopt a strong defensive attitude when the Springboks have the ball.
"We may have lost a few players to injuries but we believe we have an exceptionally strong team here with a good mix of experienced players and some great young prospects.
Medical reports today confirmed Dafydd Jones ankle injury will rule him out of the remaining matches of the series. Meanwhile, centre Mark Taylor has been released by the Wales management team to play for Sale Sharks this weekend in the English premiership after the player revealed a 'holding clause' in his contract on Sunday.
"Rather than involving ourselves in a tug of war over a player during a test week we have taken the dignified approach and done what is best for all parties by releasing Mark back to his club for the weekend," added Ruddock. "It's a difficult situation for all. Mark is a valued member of the squad and may well have figured somewhere in the selection mix, but the potential disruption and distraction of the issue was entirely unwanted.
"We are doing all we can to get some clarity on the issue and hope to reach a resolution in the coming weeks."
The Welsh Rugby Union is currently in discussions with the IRB and the club in an attempt to resolve the situation. Taylor was today thankful of the stance the Wales management team have taken on the issue, whilst maintaining his desire to play for his country.
"I'd like to thank the management team for handling this issue in such a sensitive way," said Taylor. "I will use the next few days to speak to my club owner and attempt to resolve the situation."
WALES: Lee Byrne (Llanelli Scarlets); Dafydd James (Llanelli Scarlets), Gareth Thomas © (Toulouse), Sonny Parker (Ospreys), Shane Williams (Ospreys), Stephen Jones (ASM Clermont Auvergne), Gareth Cooper (Newport/Gwent Dragons), Duncan Jones (Ospreys), Rhys Thomas (Cardiff Blues), Chris Horsman (Worcester), Luke Charteris (Newport/Gwent Dragons), Robert Sidoli (Cardiff Blues), Colin Charvis (Newcastle Falcons), Martyn Williams (Cardiff Blues), Michael Owen (Vice-captain, Newport/Gwent Dragons)
REPLACEMENTS: Mefin Davies (Gloucester), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Ian Gough (Newport/Gwent Dragons), Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys), Michael Phillips (Cardiff Blues), Ceri Sweeney (Newport/Gwent Dragons), Matthew Watkins (Llanelli Scarlets)
INVESCO PERPETUAL SERIES 2005
WALES v SOUTH AFRICA
Millennium Stadium - Saturday 19 November 2005
15 Lee BYRNE (SCARLETS)
14 Dafydd JAMES (SCARLETS)
13 Gareth THOMAS (TOULOUSE, CAPTAIN)
12 Sonny PARKER (OSPREYS)
11 Shane WILLIAMS (OSPREYS)
10 Stephen JONES (ASM CLERMONT AUVERGNE)
09 Gareth COOPER (DRAGONS)
01 Duncan JONES (OSPREYS)
02 Rhys THOMAS ( BLUES)
03 Chris HORSMAN (WORCESTER WARRIORS)
04 Luke CHARTERIS (DRAGONS)
05 Robert SIDOLI (BLUES)
06 Colin CHARVIS (NEWCASTLE FALCONS)
07 Martyn WILLIAMS (BLUES)
08 Michael OWEN (DRAGONS, VICE-CAPTAIN)
16 Mefin DAVIES (GLOUCESTER RUGBY)
17 Adam JONES (OSPREYS)
18 Ian GOUGH (DRAGONS)
19 Jonathan THOMAS (OSPREYS)
20 Michael PHILLIPS (BLUES)
21 Ceri SWEENEY (DRAGONS)
22 Matthew WATKINS (SCARLETS)