Luke Jones will be measured up for a Wallabies suit in only his second week back at work in Australia after the three-Test forward returned to training in Melbourne.
Jones, who was a foundation member of the Rebels, has come back to the club after two-and-a-half years playing for Bordeaux in France.
The 27-year-old lock and no.6, who played 72 games for the Rebels between 2011 and 2016 and debuted for the Wallabies in 2014, met with Melbourne coach Dave Wessels in Sydney last year and accepted an offer to return.
After getting an early release from Bordeaux, Jones returned to Australia and began training with the Rebels this week.
“It was quite tough and a good blow the cobwebs out kind of session. It was good to be thrown in the deep end and run around with the guys straight away,” Jones said in a Rebels video release.
“It’s changed quite a lot. “Engo” (Tom English) is the only guy at the moment I probably recognised. A lot of new faces for me but I do know a lot of the guys from previously so that’s helpful. I am finding my feet quickly.”
A big motivation for Jones to return to Melbourne and Super Rugby was a chance to also get back into the Wallabies reckoning, and make a push for selection in the 2019 Rugby World Cup squad.
While he’s yet to lace up a boot in anger, Jones is already on the radar and will travel to Sydney next week to take part in a Wallabies camp.
The invite is largely logistical – all potential World Cup contenders are being measured for suits and uniforms, doing medicals and having photos taken – but it shows Jones is already in the mind of Michael Cheika.
Finding a lineout jumping no.6 has been a running issue for the Wallabies since Scott Fardy departed to play in Ireland, and Jones is likely to be a strong contender.
“That’s definitely a motivation to come back, to try and get into the Wallabies and get into the World Cup. I have spoken to them a little bit. I go into camp for a few days next week,” Jones said.
“There is a lot of depth and there would be a lot of expectation from Rebels fans and everyone. From everyone within there is an expectation of where we want to go and how we can get there as a group.
“I always left with the intention of coming back and luckily enough the Rebels … option came up. I met with Dave and Nick (Ryan) and I really wanted to take it.
“I am satisfied with the time I had in France. It was two and a half years and I was very happy with the things I could learn. Set-piece and things like that, which is very different to here.
“I probably didn’t get the winning aspect I would have liked but I definitely learned a lot individually while I was there and hopefully I can bring that back there.”
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