Super Rugby Flanker Niko Jones Signs with Old Glory DC

By Alistair Kirsch-Poole
Apr 18, 2023 - 5:30pm

Old Glory has announced the signing of New Zealander Niko Jones, who until recently was playing as a flanker in Super Rugby. The 22-year-old is considered something of a rising star in New Zealand rugby circles, having been tipped as a potential future All Black. Those narratives are helped by his lineage, as his father is Sir Michael Jones, a successful All Black and coach of Samoa.

Jones played his school boy at St Peters, winning a national title with the team and looking sensational while doing so. That earned him an invitation to join the New Zealand 7s program in 2019 while still a teenager. However, an injury prevented him for debuting with the national sevens team. He turned back fifteens after that, fielding offers from multiple NPC teams before ultimately signing for his local team, Auckland. The start to his professional career was a rocky, however, with injuries and the pandemic disrupting things significantly.

Super Rugby also had its eye on Jones, with the Blues having him in their academy system. However, it was the Moana Pacifica that ultimately signed him, first giving him a trial with the practice squad and later signing him on a temporary deal to cover an injury. He got his first start for the team last weekend.

Jones is certainly an exciting prospect for Old Glory, given the struggles the team has had in the forwards recently. He should bring some size and energy to the pack, and as a promising youngster his signing is something of a coup for the club.

However, it's not clear when he will actually join the team. Kyle Baillie, another midseason signing this year, has yet to see the field despite having been announced weeks ago. We could see something similar with Jones. Hopefully his debut in the league isn't delayed for too long, however, as new rules this season will require him to play in at least four matches to be eligible to play in the post season.

His signing also raises some questions about where in the lineup he'll fit. As a foreign player, he will be competing for a spot with some of Old Glory's best players. Fitting him in will require some tough choices.

He will likely not be the last new signing we hear about, with at least one more player rumored to be joining. The MLR's signing deadline of the season just passed yesterday, but teams are not required to announce players immediately upon completing the paperwork. That means there could be further announcements in the coming weeks.