Wednesday 22 February 2017

Jones desperate to hit perfect pitch for crunch Quins clash

Ian Bransfield

Published 29/04/2011 | 05:00

His hopes of selling out the O2 for a summer gig may have taken a hit since his return to prominence on the rugby pitch, but it's a sacrifice that Felix Jones is more than willing to pay.

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'Hermitage Green' is the name of the band -- for anyone who doesn't know, a five-man folk group which includes Jones on bodhrán and fellow Munster player Barry Murphy on guitar and vocals.

When faced with a schedule of endless rehab in the midst of successive injuries, it seemed like a good form of distraction, and it was.

Now, however, the 23-year-old has more pressing matters on his mind, including tomorrow's showdown against Harlequins in the last four of the Amlin Cup, the first of two semi-finals that Munster will contest in the next fortnight.

There is also the small matter of World Cup selection to consider, though Jones is reluctant to look that far ahead, which is unsurprising given his injury-strewn past.

"Obviously the World Cup is at the back of every player's mind," says the U-20 Grand Slam-winning full-back. "I'm not going to sit here and say that I wouldn't want to go.

"I'd love to go. But for me, my focus is with Munster and winning the two competitions that we are in.

"I've had a couple of tough years with injuries, so I'm just delighted to get back playing at any level at all."

Jones' injuries are well documented: a dislocated neck vertebra combined with a ruptured cruciate ligament have limited him to just 12 starts in red since he moved from Leinster in January 2009.

His form since his return to action last month has been outstanding, but his family, friends and supporters are often kept on edge due to the instensely hard angles the former St Andrews College starlet runs and the manner in which he accelerates into contact.

Last weekend against the Ospreys was a case in point. Time seemed to stand still at the Liberty Stadium when Jones clattered into the forearm of Jerry Collins and ended up prostrate.

Thankfully, there was no serious damage done, and while he was left bloodied and slightly shaken by the ordeal, the cheetah-like full-back has no intention of changing his spots.

Worried

"I have always liked running hard lines, and it has probably gotten me into a lot of trouble in terms of injuries," he said. "You can't afford to go in half-hearted, because that's when you're going to get hurt.

"I am sure it's hard for my family watching -- they get worried, and the girlfriend probably more than most. But that's just the way the game is, and that's the way I like to play."

No prizes then for guessing what Jones intends to do when presented with his first opportunity to attack with ball in hand tomorrow.

As for any wider ambitions of selling out to packed audience, he laughs and mutters out something along the lines of, "We'll keep working at it."

Irish Independent

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