All Blacks Sevens: Teenage star Niko Jones boosts 2018/19 squad

The highly talented Niko Jones will be wearing a black jersey in 2019.
The highly talented Niko Jones will be wearing a black jersey in 2019. Photo credit: Photosport

Outstanding prospect Niko Jones - son of All Blacks great Michal Jones - has earned an All Blacks Sevens contract for the upcoming world series.

Jones Junior captained St Peter's College to a national first XV championship in September, claiming the tournament Most Valuable Player award in the process.

The teenager could be the next big thing in New Zealand rugby, drawing comparisons between his father and former All Black number eight Zinzan Brooke.

A constant attacking threat with ball in hand, the loose forward is also a hellacious defender, a trait that attracted the intention of national sevens coach Clark Laidlaw.

The former Scottish international unearthed serious talent in Etene Nanai-Seturo and Salesi Rayasi in 2018, and is hoping Jones and fellow newcomer Scott Gregory shine in a similar light.

"This year was a perfect example, with Etene Nanai-Seturo and Salesi Rayasi playing a year of sevens, before picking up Super Rugby contracts," Laidlaw said.

"Scott and Niko are outstanding young athletes, and it's exciting to see what they might be able to achieve in this form of the game.

"Our job is to develop these young men on and off the field - both have big futures ahead of them."

The youthful injection of Jones and Gregory will be backed up by more experienced heads for the years to come.

Veteran sevens expert Kurt Baker has committed to the programme through 2020, while New Zealand Rugby also confirmed the signatures of Akuila Rokolisoa and Ngarohi McGarvey-Black.

"This season is important for us, because it’s an Olympic qualification year," Laidlaw said. "We need to be performing at every tournament we go to, so it is crucial to have a strong squad.

"Kurt has come back into this team and thrived. Not only is he playing some of his best rugby, off the field, he is a real leader in this team.

"It’s hugely exciting knowing that he will be with us for the next two seasons."