Former Aylesbury Grammar School pupil and Aylesbury Rugby Club youngster Sam Jones has been tipped for the top with England after being nominated for the 2014 LV= Breakthrough Player Award in recognition of his form at Wasps.
Former Wasps captain Lewis Moody believes England have an embarrassment of riches in the back-row with Breakthrough Player nominee Jones the latest to state his case.
Jones used to star for AGS and the Ducks as a youngster, but since progressing into the professional game at Wasps he particularly impressed in round two of the LV= Cup against Newport Gwent Dragons, where he made 17 tackles, eight carries and was beaten by just one player in the match.
Jones is the latest back row to emerge from the west London club with England aspirations, following in the footsteps of the likes of World Cup winner Lawrence Dallaglio and 2007 runner-up Joe Worsley.
The 22-year-old faces a tough ask to break into the current set-up with England captain Chris Robshaw leading a well-stocked back row contingent that also includes Jones’ former club-mate Billy Vunipola.
But Moody admits Wasps’ history of producing back row talents means Jones is in the perfect place to reach his potential.
“The past 20 or 25 years the back row seems to be a position where we have managed to find a number of quality players,” Moody told www,premiershiprugby.com
“In Sam he’s got promising young talent. You want someone who works and someone who will be there to do all the hard work and enjoy knowing the fruits of his labours in terms of tackling. He gets through a lot of work in terms of breakdowns and the number of carries.
“But for me it’s not just about the stats it’s about the work on the park, the ball carrying and the running and I think Sam has certainly got a lot of potential.
“He’s been helped with guys like James Haskell and other back rows that have come through at Wasps helping him along. He’s certainly a promising young talent coming through. He’s learning his trade well at Wasps.”
Jones is one of ten 2014 LV= Breakthrough Player Award nominees with the winner to be announced prior to the LV= Cup Final at Sandy Park on March 16 and LV= will donate £1,000 to a grassroots rugby initiative of the winner’s choice.
“There’s a lot of guys with this youthful enthusiasm, people like Jonah, bring to these teams now is very important and there is a guy who is as he should be,” he added.
“When he’s been given the opportunity he’s taken it. You only get one chance to impress your side as a young man, that can be everything, and Jonah certainly looks like he’s done that.
“His stats show you the sort of footwork and the speed he’s able to bring to the fore.”