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RUGBY UNION: Jones relishes back-row fight
GUS Jones believes the battle for back-row places in Oxford University’s team will improve him as a player.
The flanker, from Oxford, joined the university this term having captained England Under 18s last season.
But despite his pedigree, Jones is far from guaranteed a starting spot in the Dark Blues’ Varsity XV.
“We have got some fantastic players in the back-row positions,” said Jones.
“John Carter, the captain, is a bit of an inspiration and has won the Premiership with Sale Sharks.
“We have also got James Harris, who has got lots of first-team experience at Wasps.”
Other contenders include former England Students and current Chinnor flanker Alex Waddingham, American Jason Law, who won a Blue in 2011, and try-scoring No 8 Mike Rickner.
Jones, who is part of Wasps’ academy, said: “To be honest, I would rather have it that way.
“There is a lot you can learn from players like that.
“For my development it is good having players like that in the squad, although it doesn’t make it easy to get a place in the Dark Blues team.”
Jones had to go off with concussion after just five minutes of Oxford’s defeat to Leicester on October 8, but hopes to be fit to face Northampton on Monday.
The 18-year-old, who is studying biological sciences, would still like to play professionally, but had no doubt about coming to university in his hometown.
“It wasn’t a difficult choice for me,” said Jones. “I was always going to carry on my education.
“You have got to be a bit mad to turn down a place at Oxford.
“It is great that Wasps were flexible in allowing me to be part of their academy while at university.
“Having James Wade at Wasps and as Oxford University head coach really helps too.”
Of playing professionally, Jones added: “It is definitely an ambition of mine. It depends how things go.
“My plan is that I can balance the two and get a decent degree.
“I am definitely set on trying to make it as far as I can in the game.
“I am really hoping to get into the England Under 20s next season.”
Right now Jones’s sporting focus is very much on helping defeat the Light Blues at Twickenham on December 6.
He said: “It is an incredibly close squad considering we have not been together for too long.”
- OXFORD University have ann-ounced an extra home game as part of their Varsity Match build-up.
The Dark Blues will host Henley at Iffley Road on Monday, October 29, with kick-off at 7.15pm.