Cheika to keep eye on Jones in Barbarians clash

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika will see Luke Jones on home soil this month, and he’d like to see the capped Test player back in Australia permanently.

When Jones first signed in France, he flagged the possibility of returning to Australia ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, but a recent two-year extension has snuffed that possibility out for the former Melbourne Rebel.

The 26-year-old has cemented himself in Bordeaux’s starting team in his time in France, the only player to start in each of the side's first five games of the season.

Cheika will see Jones’s progress firsthand later this month, with the former Rebel named in Alan Jones’s Barbarians squad, set to take on the Wallabies on October 28.

Luke Jones scored for Bordeaux but they couldn't clinch a win. Photo: AFPThe current Wallabies mentor didn’t hesitate when asked whether he’d like to see Jones back in Australia permanently.

We never wanted him to leave initially,” he said.

“I was surprised that Bordeaux would be releasing him to come back to play in this game.

“It'd be good to see him back here and I'd love to see him back here playing Super Rugby.”

Jones will be playing under skipper Quade Cooper, who could have been a contender for the Wallabies team, but Cheika agreed to let the Reds playmaker free to lead the Baabaas.

Quade Cooper was a standout for Brisbane City. Photo: Getty Images“In all honesty, he probably could've been playing for us very easily but when I spoke to Alan about it and what he could bring to the game from the other side (I released him),” Cheika said.

“Even though they'll be playing a different style to what we would play in that match, it's all about the basics of the game - the communication, the work ethic, the stuff we're looking for in general.

“What we've been watching in NRC, he's been guiding the team around nicely.

“He'll probably be asked to do a slightly different job in the Barbarians game, we understand that but we'll be looking for his general approach to the game, in relation to selection.”

It is expected that a number of Cheika’s top-line starters will be spectators against the Baa-Baas, the Australia coach keen to give his fringe players an opportunity to prove their credentials for the Spring Tour.  

“I think we'll look at definitely giving opportunities to some of the players who haven't started matches, but they're participating. guys who are coming on as finishers and guys we've rotated throughout the team,” he said.

“We're not looking in anyway to go to a second team or anything like that.

“There will certainly be guys with high load rested, I think that would only be normal.

“Also then in the view of the Barbarians game some of our fringe players also playing for the Barbarians and us holding off selection of the squad until the Sunday that this is a great opportunity for some guys to make their case for selection going forward.”

Cheika will announce his squad for the third Bledisloe on Saturday, with the Spring Tour squad to come on October 29, the day after the Barbarians match.

Australia takes on New Zealand in the third Bledisloe Test at Suncorp Stadium kicking off at 8pm AEDT, 7pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Network Ten, Win and via RADIO.