A schoolboy rugby prodigy and the son of one of New Zealand’s most cherished past players, has signed for the All Blacks Sevens.
Niko Jones captained the national champions St Peters 1st XV and captured the attention of the rugby public with a stand-out performance as he led his team to their first National 1st XV title.
He also happens to be the son of Michael Jones, who many regard as the greatest openside to ever play for the All Blacks.
Jones is one of five players that have today announced their All Blacks Sevens contracts, alongside 2018 breakthrough players Akuila Rokolisoa and Ngarohi McGarvey-Black.
The All Blacks Sevens will also have the services of one of their most well known and experienced players through to the Tokyo Olympics, with Kurt Baker locking in his commitment through to 2020.
All Blacks Sevens Coach Clark Laidlaw said it was great to have five more players locked in as the season approaches.
“This season is important for us because it’s an Olympic qualification year. We need to be performing at every tournament we go to, so it is crucial to have a strong squad.
“Kurt has come back into this team and thrived. Not only is he playing some of his best rugby, off the field he is a real leader in this team and it’s hugely exciting knowing that he will be with us for the next two seasons,” he said.
Rokolisoa, McGarvey Black, Gregory and Jones have all signed contracts for the upcoming 2018/2019 World Series.
“Akuila and Ngarohi both came into our environment earlier this year and have been hugely impressive. Ngarohi’s season was cut short with injury but we saw the potential he has in the three tournaments he played. Akuila joined the team as injury cover from the development squad and impressed right from the outset, he was involved in both our Commonwealth Games and World Cup victories.”
Newcomers Scott Gregory and Jones are the latest of New Zealand’s emerging rugby talent to choose the sevens pathway.
“This year was a perfect example with Etene Nanai-Seturo and Salesi Rayasi playing a year of sevens before picking up Investec Super Rugby contracts. Scott and Niko are outstanding young athletes and its exciting to see what they might be able to achieve in this form of the game.
“Our job is to develop these young men on and off the field; both have big futures ahead of them,” said Laidlaw.
The All Blacks Sevens have just returned from the Oceania Sevens, finishing second after a dramatic extra-time Final loss against Fiji, They depart for the opening tournament of the HSBC World Series in Dubai next week.
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