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Ulster flanker Jones is still fighting for an opportunity to shine in crowded back row picture

Dubliner admits he's under pressure to deliver when Ulster's call comes


Waiting game: Greg Jones performed well in a rare outing when Ulster overcame Zebre earlier this week

Waiting game: Greg Jones performed well in a rare outing when Ulster overcame Zebre earlier this week

Waiting game: Greg Jones performed well in a rare outing when Ulster overcame Zebre earlier this week

Though Greg Jones played well in Parma on Monday, in what was only the third time he has been seen in an Ulster shirt since last January, all the plaudits, naturally, went the way of Marcell Coetzee.

With four touchdowns from the nine-try annihilation of Zebre, it was hard to see past the South African's 20-point contribution to the scoreboard, which fellow back-rower Jones readily recognises with a tale of a post-match message which came his way.

"My granny said after the game in a text 'it must be so easy playing alongside Marcell'," says a smiling Jones.

"He's great to have on the pitch and he's someone you know will never really go backwards in a tackle or a carry."

Mind you, Jones is no slouch himself when it comes to his on-field work, with ball-carrying and tackling being his strengths, though getting exposure in the overcrowded area that represents Ulster's back-row options has been problematic for the Dublin native.

The former Ireland Under-20s player came to Ulster three years ago and has managed 18 senior appearances, with just eight of those games involving him in the starting side.

Quite understandably, he is pretty eager to be part of Sunday's squad when Ulster host the Scarlets with a seventh victory from as many games the prize on offer.

"I'd obviously like to play more than I have and I have no problem saying that," the 24-year-old states.

"But there is so much competition that it is tough to get in.

"I've felt that, when given the chance, I've been good over the last while and I've been happy how I've performed.

"It's just a case of keep training well and, when the chance comes, just play as well as you can and hopefully then those chances become more plentiful.


Greg Jones

Greg Jones

�INPHO/Billy Stickland

Greg Jones


"I feel like I'm more than capable of playing at this level and I feel I've shown that when I've got chances.

"So it's just a case of just hanging in there, getting chances and then performing well. And if you don't, you're going to lose your place."

With Coetzee nailed on as long as he's fit, or not being rested, it means that Jones is regularly battling to be noticed by Dan McFarland as the coach has Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy, Matty and Marcus Rea, Nick Timoney and David McCann all on the books.

As Jones knows only too well, it's a hard old slog being left out of the matchday 23.

"It's certainly tough, particularly at the front part of the week when the group finds out who's playing. It's tough at times when you feel you should be in there.

"Ultimately your mind has to flick from that (disappointment) to helping prepare the team for the game because if you're not in the squad, you're in the opposition and trying to mimic what the team against the guys will be doing.

"The more you give to that is beneficial to the squad as a whole and is also something you can use to improve yourself.

"Dan (McFarland) is pretty good as you can go and talk to him, and he's an open book in terms of chatting to him about what you could be doing better and where he sees you," adds Jones.

"It is tough mentally as you don't really know at times when it's (getting selected) going to come.

"Then when you actually get a chance, there's more pressure on yourself to perform well as you think the chances might be few and far between.

"(The pressure) is something that will drive you, but you've got to be careful it doesn't get the better of you."

All quite the balancing act.

Belfast Telegraph