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Jones set for cross-code switch

Published 17/06/2015

Josh Jones, centre, is going to try his hand at rugby union
Josh Jones, centre, is going to try his hand at rugby union

St Helens centre or back rower Josh Jones will switch codes at the end of the season after signing a two-year contract with Aviva Premiership club Exeter.

The 22-year-old was a member of Saints' Grand-Final winning team last October and has played 15 of the club's 20 matches so far this year.

"It's a new challenge for me and my family but it's one that we're all really looking forward to," Jones said.

"Exeter are a great club, they've just come off the back of a fantastic season and having watched them a few times on the TV, I like the style of rugby they play and the way they go about things.

"Hopefully I can go down there, add a bit to the squad using my experience from playing Super League and look to make my mark as quickly as possible.

"Obviously it's a big change for me, I've been with the Saints since I was 13 but I think it's a good move.

"I'm focused on seeing out what I hope will be another great year with St Helens. They have always been a big part of my life just because I've been here for so long."

Jones, who had a brief spell in rugby union with his home-town club Preston Grasshoppers, becomes Exeter's eighth signing of a busy summer.

Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter said: "It became known to us that Josh was one of those guys who was interested in playing rugby union so we kept an eye on the situation and waited to see how things panned out.

"We were fortunate to have a meeting with him and he is a very impressive young man. He is very driven by what he wants to achieve in league and union.

"Just seeing how driven and ambitious he was about succeeding in union was impressive - sometimes those meetings can almost be the deciding factor. When you see someone's personal qualities is a big thing for me.

"Josh played union throughout school so it is not like it has been a long time since he played it; therefore we are hoping the switchover back to union won't be too big a deal for him.

"He is not the superstar that perhaps Kyle Eastmond or Sam Burgess were when they moved to Bath but this is different.

"We have seen his qualities and want to see how that develops from a union perspective. He will almost certainly be playing in midfield and it will be interesting to see how his attacking and defensive qualities translate to union."

Meanwhile, St Helens have given threequarter Matty Dawson a two-year contract extension which will keep him at the cllub until the end of 2017.

Dawson has made 19 appearances since joining Saints from Huddersfield before the start of the 2014 season.

"I had no hesitation to re-sign with the Saints," he said. "I said when I signed two years ago that I was overwhelmed to be joining such a club and to accept another deal is a no-brainer.

"I know Nathan Brown brought me to the Saints but it is pleasing that Keiron Cunningham has seen something in me. I hope I can continue to impress him and do what I can for the club.

"Sometimes I have to pinch myself that I am playing for St Helens; when you consider its history. It is a massive thing for me personally."

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