Jack Jones signs his first professional contract with Ospreys
JACK Jones, the Ospreys' youngster with rugby in his DNA, has signed his first professional contract at the Liberty.
The son of former Swansea and Neath back-rower Robin Jones and the grandson of Gnoll legend Brian Thomas, the 20-year-old has put pen to paper on a two-year Ospreys deal.
He spent last season at the region's partner club in Italy, Rugby Rovigo, going on to underline his potential at the Junior World Championship, when he played in all five of Wales's matches en route to the final.
Neath-born, the back-five forward has already featured for Tonmawr, Swansea and Rovigo, playing 15 times for the Italians in the Super 10 and four times in the Amlin Challenge Cup, including games against Perpignan and Worcester, and he is excited about negotiating his first pro package.
"I'm landed," said the 20-year-old.
"After being away in Italy last year it was what I aimed to do, to come back here and try to establish myself as part of the Ospreys region.
"The experience in Italy was excellent. It was a good standard of rugby that helped me develop as a player but I'm looking forward to new challenges this season that can help me to kick on again.
"I'm lucky to be training with the likes of Alun Wyn Jones and Ian Evans, top players in my position who have worked extremely hard to achieve what they have. With great players and great coaches around you this is the best environment to be in as a young player.
"This year for me is about working hard every day, getting more rugby under my belt and hopefully making the next step up."
The Ospreys are confident he will make it, having long ago identified Jones as a significant raw talent and making him Swansea RFC captain at the age of just 18 after just three appearances for the Whites.
A product of Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera who attended Llandovery College and Neath Port Talbot College, he followed the path pursued by regional team-mate Scott Baldwin by heading for Italy, and went on to perform outstandingly at the Junior World Championship, adding resolve to Wales's forward effort.
"The new contract is good news for Jack," said Andy Lloyd, the region's rugby operations manager.
"He's obviously got a long way to go before he is the finished article but with the right attitude and work ethic he could have a bright future.
"He did very well last season out in Italy and at the Junior World Championship earlier in the summer, and he's shown that he has the potential to establish himself as an Osprey. He has some outstanding role models in the environment to look up to and learn from, players who have shown their capability at the very highest level, and I'm sure he will benefit from being part of the group."
Lloyd added: "Jack is the seventh and last of our players from the Wales Under-20s squad that reached the Junior World Championship final that we have secured for the future. Our development pathway is continuing to produce talented young players with an increased investment of 600 per cent ensuring the future for the region is bright."