Schoolboy rugby star Niko Jones has revealed he will be staying in Auckland to play his provincial rugby.
The son of All Blacks legend Sir Michael Jones revealed on Friday that he has signed a two-year deal with the defending champion side.
“It’s really exciting to be staying home,” he told Fairfax. “West Auckland is my home. There were offers from around the country, with amazing academies and all the provinces have great things going for them.”
A shift south to Canterbury and potentially the Crusaders had been rumoured, but those rumours have since been quashed.
“I had to weigh it all up, visit some, and I was very thankful and honoured they gave me their time and looked into me,” he added. “It was the best option for me to be here in Auckland.”
Jones – who captained the St. Peter’s College first XV to both Auckland and New Zealand titles this year – said there was no pressure from his father, who represented Auckland from 1985 to 1999 and played 55 tests for the All Blacks.
“My parents told me to make the decision that feels right and what’s best for me, no pressure at all,” he said. “I was at peace and happy and I know my dad wanted what was best for me. He’s happy, but I know whatever decision I made he’d be happy anyways.”
Jones will join the New Zealand Sevens team before he plays for Auckland next year, after he was a surprise inclusion in Clark Laidlaw’s squad.
He will hope to follow in the footsteps of Rieko Ioane, Caleb Clarke and several other young guns who have forged careers in the 15-man code after getting their feet wet with the New Zealand Sevens programme after high school.
“I remember watching Rieko [Ioane], and those guys doing it out of school, thinking it was amazing. For me to be in a similar position is unbelievable. Hopefully I can do it in a similar way, but whatever comes I know I’ll be with great coaches and great players and it worked for them.
Jones isn’t concerned by his lack of sevens experience and is ready to learn from the best.
“They are not going to rush me into it because I haven’t played a lot of sevens,” he said. “They’ve got a plan, and they know what they’re doing. I just have to do all I can to get myself better.
“2019 is exciting and I’m going to do all I can to put myself in the best place, but also enjoy it too, soak up the experience of being around amazing players and not get caught up in it.”
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