La’auli’s son makes All Blacks Sevens debut
The son of Manu Samoa and All Blacks legend Sir La’auli Michael Jones is set to make his international debut at the Oceania Sevens this weekend.
Niko Jones has been named to the All Blacks Sevens squad for the tournament a year after signing a contract with the programme straight out of high-school.
After leading St. Peter’s College to the national secondary school title in 2018, Jones got injured while playing for the All Blacks Sevens Development side, meaning he couldn’t make his debut during the 2019 season.
Jones is one of four potential debutants named in the Oceania Sevens squad, along with Te Rangaira Waitokia, Jamie Spowart and William Warbrick.
While the tournament is an Olympic qualifier for the region, New Zealand have already booked a spot at Tokyo 2020 thanks to their third place finish on the 2019 World Rugby Sevens Series.
Coach Clark Laidlaw said the Oceania Sevens was a great opportunity for the young players, including Jones, to gain international experience.
“Pre-season tournaments allow us to give younger players some good exposure. It’s a genuine opportunity for us to build depth; we’ve got a long season ahead of us so its important.
“We’ve got a good balance, some of the older players are hungry for game time so they are looking forward to getting out there and seeing them alongside some of our developing players is great,” said Laidlaw.
All Blacks Sevens team (*denotes debut)
Kurt Baker Manawatu
Dylan Collier Waikato
Scott Curry Bay of Plenty
Taylor Haugh Otago
Trael Joass Tasman
Niko Jones* Auckland
Ngarohi McGarvey-Black Bay of Plenty
Tim Mikkelson Waikato
Amanaki Nicole Canterbury
Akuila Rokolisoa Counties Manukau
Jamie Spowart* Tasman
Te Rangatira Waitokia* Manawatu
William Warbrick* Bay of Plenty