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Dublin: 11°C Tuesday 20 April 2021

Jones happy with leadership role as Munster prep for 'dangerous' Leinster backs

The 27-year-old captained the province for the first time three weeks ago against Treviso.

Jones captained Munster against Treviso in the Guinness Pro12 three weeks ago.
Jones captained Munster against Treviso in the Guinness Pro12 three weeks ago.

THAT FELIX JONES has to be called out of Munster’s analysis room to chat underlines the qualities that drive the player.

The 27-year-old is a standard setter in preparation and professionalism at the province, always looking to do the extras that make him better. Recognition of his leadership in these areas came when Jones was handed the Munster captaincy for the first time against Treviso three weekends ago.

“It was a huge honour for me,” says Jones of the milestone. “When I first came down here, I didn’t think that was something I’d be able to do. When I first came down, I was just trying to get into the side.”

The former Leinster fullback may not have the personality everyone associates with a captain, but there is no one guaranteed path to success in this area. Different characters can bring the best out of different sides and Jones’ approach has been working for him.

I try to just conduct myself professionally in training and on the pitch. The way I try to do things is wholeheartedly, I don’t try to do things in halves. Whatever I’m doing, I invest myself fully into it. That’s the way I plan on continuing for the rest of my career, whether that’s as a captain or as a player.”

Jones is almost certain to be back in Munster’s starting XV this weekend against Leinster, having sat out the defeat to the Ospreys last weekend. While the team performances have not been to satisfaction down south so far this season, Jones is content with the direction in which Munster’s back play is moving.

New attack coach Brian ‘Squeaks’ Walsh has been a key figure in the progress.

“Squeaks has been great, really good,” explains Jones. “I don’t want to start making comparisons between last year and this year, but what I can say from how we’re playing this season is that we’re nice and direct at times.

Felix Jones Jones' professionalism is infectious within the Munster set-up. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“We have a couple of nice key focuses that we can go to and a lot of guys are buying into it.”

The Leinster backs are sure to ask questions of Munster in midfield and wider out the pitch on Saturday evening at the Aviva Stadium, with the possible inclusion of Ian Madigan and Gordon D’Arcy in the centre positions posing an interesting challenge.

For Leinster native Jones, a former Seapoint RFC man, playing against a number a familiar faces makes this tie of even more importance.

They’ve lots of guys who are very dangerous with ball in hand. Madigan, whether it’s at 10 or 12 or wherever, he’s a danger. D’Arcy has an unbelievable pedigree behind him, so they’ve threats all over the place.

“You know the guys well. A lot of these Leinster guys playing this weekend, I would have been in the academy with them growing up. Through the years, you’re in international camps with them. Any interprovincial derby has something different about it.”

With that in mind, Jones heads back to his analysis, looking for the one per cent advantage that could be the difference between winning and losing.

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Murray Kinsella

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