Back in Black - another Jones in famous 7 jersey
Over 32 years on from his father’s famous All Black debut, Niko Jones began his international career on Day One of the Oceania Sevens.
Jones played his first games for the All Blacks Sevens in Lautoka, Fiji, wearing the number seven jersey his father La’auli Sir Michael made famous all those years ago.
Having previously played internationally for Manu Samoa in 1986, La’auli made his All Blacks debut in the first game of the 1987 Rugby World Cup.
He scored the second try of the tournament in a moment immortalised with a statue outside Eden Park, and kickstarted one of the greatest rugby careers of all time.
Niko Jones couldn’t quite live up to those heights on his international debut; a couple of minutes off the bench against New Caledonia in the All Blacks Sevens 57-0 win.
He started New Zealand’s second match against Niue (a 38-0 win) at prop, but didn’t score while fellow newbies Jamie Spowart, Te Rangatira Waitokia and William Warbrick all ran in tries.
Jones certainly didn’t look out of place though, and while his maiden international didn’t quite wow like that of La’auli’s, one expects he still has a bright future ahead.
Niko Jones was a prized recruit coming out of high school, and not just for his outstanding pedigree.
He lead St Peter’s College to the Auckland and New Zealand national secondary school titles in 2018 as a talismanic, ball-playing number eight, and his signature was sought by a number of provincial unions, including Canterbury.
Jones eventually agreed to a two year deal with Auckland, the team his father won nine national championships with between 1985 and 1999.
He also signed up for the All Blacks Sevens programme, although largely missed their 2019 campaign through injury.