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Jones ready to make his mark

The start of the LV=Cup this weekend will provide a platform for a number of young Wasps faces to stake a claim for a regular starting shirt, and none more so than 20-year-old Sam Jones.

Despite 21 appearances last season, Jones has been forced into a bystander role so far this season, with five cameos off the bench so far.

But despite being a little frustrated with limited game-time, the young back-row accepts he must bide his time.

“It is a little frustrating to be watching from the side-line but making as many appearances as I did at such a young age last year was a big surprise and the Club was sort of forced into it with all of the injuries. It was a fantastic experience for me and to get to play so much in the second half of the season made me learn so much in a short space of time. When we brought in signings like James Haskell and Ashley Johnson I was well aware the competition was going to be incredibly tough and when those two are in the backrow alongside someone like Billy Vunipola you can’t argue too much about being left out.”

Jones, who combines his rugby career with a fulltime English Literature degree at Kings College, adds that he receives regular feedback from the coaching staff and is hoping he can make a mark in the coming weeks by being given a good run-out in the LV=Cup.

“Dai speaks to me all the time – he’s very good with players like that – and he’s told me to just keep working very hard in training and that there are plenty of games there for everyone. Most of my games last year came in the second half of the season so I am just getting my head down and hopefully I will make the most of it when I get my chance.”

Haskell’s return to the Wasps set-up may have dropped him down the pecking order somewhat for now, but Jones is quick to praise the impact of the England flanker, who can regularly be found running back-row specific sessions at Twyford Avenue after training.

“He’s a fantastic player and adds a really strong physical presence to the team. He’s also been brilliant at helping out some of the younger back-row players, passing on his experience and what he is learning from every game to us at training. Players like myself and Matt Everard soak up a lot from him in those sessions.”

The youngster says that he has been working hard on strengthening a number of areas of his game.

“One area I have been working very hard on is developing my ability as a lineout jumper. We’ve got a lot of guys now who offer a jumping option and that makes it really hard for teams to defend against when you’ve got a large number of the guys out there who can do it. We work pretty hard on our lineouts and I think that’s paying off as we’re going well on that front so far this season.”

Friday night’s game against Cardiff Blues is an exciting prospect for Jones.

“The LV has always been a competition that has been good for young players and we’ve got a lot of those guys here who really want to get some game-time. I think this year with a better depth to the squad we can also definitely pick well balanced squads with youth and experience and try and give ourselves some momentum in the tournament going back into the Premiership.”

Jones was also thrilled to hear the news this week that his housemate Joe Launchbury was called into the England squad.

“He obviously got an early phone call because the first I knew that he was off was the sound of the front door slamming very early on Monday morning and when I got up I saw on Twitter that he had linked up with them. I am delighted for him and he deserves it for how he’s been playing. It goes to show what can happen very quickly if you work very hard and I think it shows too the benefit of the international U20s programme. I think Joe shot to a lot of people’s attention at the Junior World Cup where he massively shone in the final and just over a year later he’s in the senior squad.”

"We have a few others I think who have come out of the U20s and are progressing really well – players like Elliot Daly and Billy Vunipola are doing well and if they continue on that curve they could be right up there as well.”

Away from rugby and Jones is one of a rare breed of players who is combining fulltime studies with a fulltime rugby career. Now in his second year at Kings College, where Nathan Morris is also studying fulltime, Jones combines his studies with his training.

“I have got something on every day there but I can only make it physically in there about twice a week. It’s tough and second year is definitely harder but I am glad I am doing it because it’s just something totally different.”

This weekend though, thoughts of Shakespeare and Wordsworth will be far from his mind as he aims to shine on Friday night in Wasps colours.

London Wasps return to Adams Park next weekend where they will face Worcester Warriors in round two of the LV=Cup. To secure your place call 0844 225 2990 or book online here.