Jones relishing Rebels' depth in Melbourne return

Super Rugby
by Emma Greenwood

Returned Rebel Luke Jones says heated competition for a starting spot is an indication of the positive changes that have taken place in Melbourne since he left the club for France in 2016.

Jones started in the Rebels' 34-27 win against the Brumbies in Canberra last week but with Adam Coleman returning from a calf injury that kept him out of the season-opener and Matt Philip one of the Rebels' best in their opening win, he has a battle to retain his jersey.
Jones believes the competition can only be good for the Rebels though.
"It's great having a lot of guys in the second row who are obviously quality players," he said.
"It makes you work harder and keeps you on your toes.
"You know that everything is on the line every week."
Luke Jones (left) will be in action for Bordeaux. Photo: AFP


Jones, who returned to Melbourne after a two-year stint with Bordeaux in the Top 14, is celebrating the strides in professionalism that have been made since he was last at the Rebels.
"When I left I always had the intention of coming back and Melbourne is home for me," he said.
"I'm from Sydney but I think Melbourne is a much better place.
"Once I'd spoken to Dave (coach Dave Wessels) and Nick Ryan (Rebels general manager, rugby) about the direction the club was going and what guys they had and how things operated, I was very excited by that and that was a strong pull for me to come back and be involved.
"Dave's not afraid to make changes if guys aren't pulling their weight, which is great.
"It means guys who are trying to get in can push for their position and guys who are lucky enough to play have really got to step up otherwise someone can step into their shoes.
"I think it creates a good, competitive environment."
More competition for places, a higher intensity at training and in games would be enough to make some tear their hair out.
But Jones cut his off willingly.
Announcing that he'd shave his head if the Rebels beat the Brumbies in Canberra in the opening round last week was a risky move - and the 27-year-old believes he may have got away with it, if not for the sharp memory of a member of the Melbourne coaching staff.
But the second-rower was more than happy to honour his bet as he celebrates what he calls his "round two Rebels".

"Obviously a lot has changed.
"I think the core values of the club have stayed the same - we've got passionate fans and strong ties to the community - but it's a lot more professional to what it was previously.
"Training's a lot more competition and a lot higher intensity, so I think it's been all positive things to come out of round two Rebels, for me."
Jones said the Rebels had made the most of their bye week before taking on the Highlanders in their opening home game next week.
"We've handled the bye week really well, we haven't wasted it and we've used it as a week to get out some extra fitness and really step it up for next week because we know the Highlanders are probably going to be a lot more challenging than the Brumbies," he said.
"We can't just be satisfied with the win against the Brumbies, we need to look at what else is thrown at us."