Son of All Blacks legend set to make Super Rugby debut

Niko Jones, son of All Blacks great Sir Michael Jones, is set to make his Super Rugby debut for Moana Pasifika tomorrow afternoon.

Jones has been named to start at openside flanker for his side’s trip to take on the Chiefs in Hamilton, the same position in which his father played the majority of his 55 tests.

The 21-year-old, who starred in schoolboy rugby while leading St Peter’s College to the national title in 2018, signed his first professional contract with the All Blacks Sevens.

He quickly shifted his focus to the 15-man game and linked with local union Auckland, making his NPC debut in 2020. But injuries limited Jones to seven appearances across the last two seasons and he was overlooked by the Blues for a Super Rugby contract, despite training with the franchise in that period.

The loose forward was set to head to the United States and take up an offer to play in Major League Rugby before an opportunity arose late last year to join Moana Pasifika as injury cover.

“Things kind of fell into place to end up here,” Jones told 1 News. “It’s been a journey of rugby, injuries and not making all the teams – that’s a part of the game and if anything I’ve grown from it and I’m in a good place now.

“I’m feeling in really good shape physically.”

Jones will now make his debut for the new franchise but won’t enjoy the chance to clash with All Blacks captain Sam Cane, who has been rested for the encounter.

Sir Michael Jones, part of the Blues’ title-winning teams in the early years of Super Rugby, played a key role in Moana Pasifika’s inception, having played for and coached in Samoa during his illustrious career.

Moana Pasifika: William Havili, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Solomone Kata, Henry Taefu, Anzelo Tuitavuki, Lincoln McClutchie, Ereatara Enari, Sione Tuipulotu, Niko Jones, Michael Curry, Mahonri Ngakuru, Veikoso Poloniati, Chris Apoua, Ray Niuia, Ezekiel

Reserves: Samiuela Moli, Tau Koloamatangi, Suetena Asomua, Alex McRobbie, Josh Kaifa, Jonathan Taumateine, Fine Inisi, Tomasi Alosio.

Chiefs: Chase Tiatia, Shaun Stevenson, Alex Nankivell, Rameka Poihipi, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Bryn Gatland, Cortez Ratima, Luke Jacobson (cc), Kaylum Boshier, Mitch Brown, Tupou Vaa’i, Josh Lord, Angus Ta’avao, Bradley Slater, Ollie Norris.

Reserves: Tyrone Thompson, Aidan Ross, George Dyer, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Samipeni Finau, Brad Weber (cc), Rivez Reihana, Jonah Lowe.

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