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Friday 23 June 2017

Jones hoping to push on into the pro game

Ireland's Greg Jones. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / Sportsfile
Ireland's Greg Jones. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

For many, the experience of playing international rugby at U-20 level will be a career highest achievement but for others, getting a taste of what it is like to be involved in a professional environment is enough to inspire players to go onto bigger and better things.

Having missed the first two Six Nations games through injury, Greg Jones was always playing catch up but having started the last two games - which coincidentally or not were Ireland's only victories - the No 8 has certainly taken his chance.

Competing with Max Deegan, a player who will next year join Leinster's Academy, is a tough enough challenge for Jones but last time out against Italy, he remained ahead of him in the pecking order and does so again for tomorrow's visit of Scotland.

Mentality

"There is that mentality behind it," Jones said. "I wouldn't solely see myself as an eight. It is not a one-on-one battle.

"Max will be going into the Academy next year. I don't know where I will be. But this has opened my eyes to something I would love to do.

"At the moment, similarly to everyone here, when you are put in an environment like this it certainly does give you the kick to get from one place to another setting. Rugby isn't completely everything for me. I'm studying Economic and Finance at UCD on top of that.

"Rugby is obviously a big aspect. This is as close to a professional set-up as I've been in and I've really enjoyed it."

Tomorrow evening's clash will be the final competitive game that Ireland will play before June's U-20 World Cup and Jones said the players are very much of aware of the need to impress Nigel Carolan and his coaching staff.

"Any time you're given your shot, you really have to take it because you know there's going to be someone else breathing down your neck," he said.

"We're playing week-by-week, looking towards our next match.

"For many of us, this Scotland game could be our chance to cement a place in the World Cup squad. I guess there is that added incentive every time you play.

"Coming in later, everyone putting on the jersey is as hungry as the next man.

"Everyone wants to impress. That can be said across the whole squad and that competitive attitude of looking back over your shoulder. When you're given a chance you have to take it because you only get so many shots."

Ireland U-20s (v Scotland tomorrow) - B Connon; H Keenan, S Daly, C O'Brien, J Stockdale; J McPhillips, S Kerins; J Bollard, A McBurney, C O'Donnell; S O'Connor, J Ryan (capt); C Gallagher, W Connors, G Jones. Reps: H Kean, A Porter, A Coyle, P Claffey, M Deegan, J Poland, P Kiernan, M Byrne.

Irish Independent

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