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Wallace backs Jones to make leap into big-time

DAVID WALLACE yesterday paid tribute to the character of Munster team-mate Felix Jones, who has battled his way back from injury hell to make Ireland's World Cup training squad.

The full-back suffered a bad neck injury that kept him out for most of his first season at Thomond Park. Then, after he had regained fitness, the former Leinster man damaged knee ligaments against the Ospreys last September.

Undeterred, Jones bounced back to make the Munster No 15 jersey his own with a string of impressive performances at the end of the season.

"Felix is an unbelievable character to come from the problems he's had to play the way he does. You kinda say, 'how does he do it?' He's a great character and he'll definitely have a great career," said Wallace.

"You see the way he plays and puts his body on the line. He's always had a gash on his head this season. I remember against Toulon, he fielded a high ball on our try-line and got smashed. Very few guys would have taken that ball. He puts his heart and soul into it -- and his body as well."

Jones and Munster scrum-half Conor Murray are dark horses for Declan Kidney's final squad for New Zealand after impressing in the red jersey last season.

Murray's style and physique have drawn comparisons with Wales No 9 Mike Phillips and, having played with both, Wallace can see similarities.

"Conor always plays with a real cool head and he looks like he's been around for 20 years with his calmness and composure on the pitch," said Wallace.

"He puts in big hits. In the Leinster game, looking back over it briefly that night, I saw maybe three or four try-saving tackles that he put in and he's been doing that regularly."

Wallace has plenty of sympathy for fellow veteran Shane Horgan, who looks set to miss the World Cup after undergoing knee surgery.

"He was coming back to his best form and for this to happen to him now is very disappointing."

Irish Independent