Luke Jones to return to Melbourne in 2019, in Wallabies mix for Spring Tour

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Former Rebels lock Luke Jones is set to return to Melbourne in 2019 and could play for the Wallabies again by the end of the year.

French media are reporting the 27-year-old has secured a release from his contract with French club Bordeaux that will see him back in Australia for the start of the Super Rugby season next year.

Jones has been playing with Bordeaux since the end of 2016 and had re-signed with the team through to the end of 2020, but has decided to return home and have a crack at making the 2019 Rugby World Cup squad.

But, like Matt Toomua, the moment Jones signs a new deal with the Rebels he becomes immediately eligible for the Wallabies.

While it is unlikely he will be called on during the Rugby Championship, a return to the Wallabies ranks on the Spring Tour is very much on the cards.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is believed to have been involved in talks for Jones to return to Australian rugby. 

The versatile lock/backrower played six seasons with the Rebels and one with the Force before moving to France, racking up 74 Super Rugby matches and three Wallabies Tests in that time.

He was overlooked by Cheika for the 2015 Rugby World Cup but had been open about his desire to push for a World Cup berth if the opportunity came up.

Jones had hinted at a move back to Australia when he was back in Sydney last year, playing for the Alan Jones' Barbarians against the Wallabies.

“I was put under some serious pressure to stay (in Bordeaux) because they’re happy with my playing and I’m enjoying my time there," he said at the time.

"They were pretty keen to wrap it up pretty quickly.

“If Australia came knocking, I think Bordeaux would understand if I wanted to go back.”

Cheika also said at the time that he would welcome Jones back into Super Rugby with open arms.

“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.”

Bordeaux president Laurent Marti wouldn't officially confirm the news in France but did air his frustrations about Australians leaving their contracts early or asking for releases.

Sekope Kepu left his Bordeaux deal after less than one season into a three-year deal back in 2016 and Adam Ashley-Cooper was in a tug of war with the French team during that 2016 Rugby Championship as well after Bordeaux was forced to release him for Test matches.

The Rebels have been contacted for comment.