Jones’ journey comes full circle

Fri, Dec 2, 2022, 1:30 AM
Reds Media Unit
by Reds Media Unit
Luke Jones brings over a decade of professional experience to Ballymore. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan Hertel.
Luke Jones brings over a decade of professional experience to Ballymore. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan Hertel.

Luke Jones is a new face at Ballymore for the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific campaign, and he’ll bring plenty of experience to the Reds pack for the next three seasons.

The 31-year-old has played six Tests for the Wallabies and over 80 Super Rugby matches for the Melbourne Rebels, while he’s also plied his trade in the French Top 14 with Bordeaux and Racing 92.

Jones last played in Australia with the Rebels in 2019, although the decision to return to his home nation was an easy one for 197-cm-tall lock.

“For quite some time I’ve been interested in coming back to Australia and more specifically the Reds, it’s just been a timing issue for me,” Jones said.

“My wife has a lot of family here, so we have a good network here and we also liked what the Reds is about.

“Brad Thorn has a good operation here with his staff, and the playing group are a young group who are quite ambitious.

“This is something I want to be a part of and being part of a team that can really challenge Super Rugby this year is going to be exciting for me.”

Born and raised in Sydney, Jones’ two stints overseas have only helped his Rugby career.

From learning French to playing with some of the code’s best, the lock comes to Ballymore a well-rounded player and person, on and off the field.

“Racing had a lot of guys who played at an international standard, a lot of guys who play for France or other nations, it was good to pick their brains,” he said.

“From Europe, you’re able to adapt a lot more to different cultures. Learning French can be difficult, but it something that I enjoyed trying to do.

“If I can give any experience from my 12-years as a professional, that’d be great to pass that on to some of the younger players here.”

He’ll look to impart some of that knowledge to Queensland’s young group of locks, with the likes of Ryan Smith and Angus Blyth continuing to push their case for representative honours.

Smith impressed for Australia A this year, while Blyth has taken his game to new heights after captaining Queensland in the Queensland Rugby Challenger Series and Japan Tour.

“They’re great athletes and even better guys,” Jones said of Queensland’s current crop of secondrowers.

“They’ve been really good in helping me transition back and get around the other forwards.

“I think it’ll be a good group of locks, all competing but also forming good friendships off the field which I think is important.”

Jones will have the opportunity to learn himself at Ballymore, with head coach and fellow lock Brad Thorn sure to share some learnings with Queensland’s new recruit.

“I’m looking forward to working with Thorny,” Jones said.

“I’ve had some conversations with him so far, mainly around where the club’s at, where we want to go moving forward, and obviously lineout stuff, that’s our bread and butter.

“It’s been good discussing with him, and I’m looking forward to the season with him.”

Jones and his Reds teammates will kick of their 2023 campaign against the Hurricanes at Townsville’s Queensland Country Bank Stadium on Saturday 25 February.

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