Monday 27 January 2020

Jones admits going up against O'Gara would be 'weird'

Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Felix Jones paid tribute to Ronan O'Gara and Doug Howlett, two players he says have made their mark on the history of Munster rugby in more ways than one,.

Howlett, who has retired, brings to an end his five-year spell with Munster and leaves behind a legacy Jones claims is pretty special. "Dougie is the best in the world at what he does, especially his knowledge of the game. You couldn't have asked for a better mentor," he said. Much has been made of O'Gara's decision to join Racing Metro as a kicking coach and Jones admits he was shocked to learn the news.

"I was surprised ROG went into coaching so soon. But I have no doubt he'll take to that like a duck to water. "

With Munster facing the prospect of drawing Racing in the pool stages of the Heineken Cup for the second consecutive season, Jones believes the occasion would be very strange.

"I was looking at the seedings the other day and wondering what it would be like if Racing were drawn in our pool again. It would certainly be a weird experience for everyone."

With Munster losing two of their senior players, Jones says it is up to the players to pick themselves up and take their opportunity.

"It's difficult to put into words what the two lads have done for us. They've represented everything that's been positive about Munster rugby for the last while – two decades in ROG's case. They're going to be badly missed but the young guys have to step up and we have to fill their shoes."

Jones who was speaking after Ireland's training session in Limerick ahead of their tour of North America is relishing the chance to be back in the squad following a two-year absence.

An ankle injury sustained in his first start against France in 2011 ruined his chances of travelling with Ireland to the World Cup. Having returned from shoulder surgery last October, Jones is once again keen to make an impression on the international stage.

"It's great to be back involved. This is the level you want to get to. Obviously I fell out of that for the last two years with the injuries – it's been a long slog to get back but hopefully I can go well out on tour.

"There's a great buzz around the place with players looking to grab this big opportunity and make an impression on the new coach ahead of the November Tests."

Irish Independent

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