The fabulous Jones boys

Common name and a shared aim bring two different sons of the game together at Kingsholm
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The Independent Online

It is extremely rare that Kingsley Jones needs words put in his mouth. The Welsh openside flanker, who captained Gloucester to their best ever finish in home and away league rugby last season, has inherited the gift of the gab from his dad Phil, sometime rugby coach and stand-up comic, best known as the manager and mentor of Jonah Lomu.

It is extremely rare that Kingsley Jones needs words put in his mouth. The Welsh openside flanker, who captained Gloucester to their best ever finish in home and away league rugby last season, has inherited the gift of the gab from his dad Phil, sometime rugby coach and stand-up comic, best known as the manager and mentor of Jonah Lomu.

Despite Gloucester's success in reaching third place in the Premiership, and qualifying for their debut in the Heineken Cup next month as a result, Jones has been relieved of the skipper's role. But if he feels miffed at the move, he's not letting on. For a start, the new man shares his name. More importantly, he also happens to be one of the greats of the game.

Watching Ian Donald Jones train, you cannot help but wonder. Wonder how this oh-so-slender giant, all elbows, knees and shoulder blades when he runs, came to be the All Blacks' second highest cap winner with 79 Tests, one short of Willie-John McBride's world record for a lock.

Then you remember the supreme performances, the stream of assured line-out ball from his salmon leaps throughout a decade of top-class rugby, the half-dozen times he was asked over to these shores to represent the Barbarians. It was a desire to see Europe at length rather than from the back of a touring bus that brought him to Gloucester last November when, aged only 30, his international playing days were over. Gloucester's coach, Philippe Saint-Andrÿ, an oldadversary in the Test arena, was influential in striking the two-year deal.

They make a fascinating duo, these Jones boys, brought together from opposite ends of the earth by Tom Walkinhsaw's wallet and their own desire to succeed. Kingsley, a jack-in-the-box from the Gwent valley village of Nantyglo. Ian, the native of Kamo, a coastal-cum-rural spot on New Zealand's north island that gave him his career-long nickname.

They have been around the circuit as long as any of Walkinshaw's racing cars, yet both retain the will to learn. "You never know everything in this game, never," says Ian.

"I've been a captain, apart from a season at Pontypridd, since 1993, so this is new for me," adds Kingsley, previously at Cross Keys and Ebbw Vale. "But I'll help Ian as much as I can. I'll still talk a lot, I can't stop."

The pair were ever-present in the Premiership for Gloucester last season, apart from one match against Bedford, Ian having made his debut following the World Cup. Kingsley often played patched-up, such was Saint-André's belief in his motivational powers, but a troublesome ankle may confine him to the bench against Wasps at Loftus Road thisafternoon.

Injuries have been the bane of Gloucester's campaign so far. Andy Deacon is due to return to the front row today but the England props Trevor Woodman and Phil Vickery are still missing. Tom Beim is back in contention on the wing after seven months out, and Simon Mannix returns from a handinjury suffered in the 50-point hammering at Saracens three weeks ago, but lock Rob Fidler, utility back Byron Hayward and scrum-half Elton Moncrieff are all crocked.

A couple of seasons back, Gloucester found it impossible to win away from home. That bogey laid, they have found their start to the current Premiership undermined by two single-point losses at Fortress Kingsholm, to Sale and Bath.

The Bath defeat last week was particularly painful, with seven goal-kicks going astray. "If we'd beaten Sale," says Kingsley, "it would have been robbery. There's a difference between doing your job, and really being up for it, aggressively. Against Bath, we were 100 per cent committed to the task, and we should have beaten them, whether the kicks went over or not.

"Philippe has a nice way of putting it: 'You are never lucky or unlucky'. But we pinched the odd result last year that we won't get so lightly this time round."

"Kamo" captained his home province Northland early in his career, and the Waikato Chiefs in Super 12, but the All Blacks just once, in a midweek tour match in South Africa. Of the handover at Gloucester, he says: "We didn't want too many voices during the week. On game day, Kingsley still has a huge influence in the build-up, vocal and passionate, and a lot of the English players respond well to that. We've got Andy Gomarsall and Simon Mannix at nine and 10, they run the game. If I can offer useful advice off the field, so be it. I just want the team to be successful but it's a hard road."

Kingsley, who signed on for two more years with Gloucester in June, adds: "The days are gone when you could take the field with the same XV every week and win the league. I know sides with captains of kick-offs, captains of strike moves, captains of defence. Captaincy is still important, but it's changing."

This week Gloucester's preparations have included the latest in a series of forwards sessions with the former Brive coach, Laurent Seigne, whose infamous motivational methods were mentioned in these pages last week. Gloucester have yet to turn to Seigne in the last moments before kick-off. "If smacking somebody across the face before kick-off motivates them to play outstandingly well, then the player will be more than happy," says Kingsley.

Approaching the end of his first 12 months in the Premiership, Ian equates the standard with that of the Provincial Championship at home in New Zealand. "It's not quite the level of the Super 12," he says. "I would find it hard here to go from club level to international level, and compete. Fair play to England, they do pretty well. That is to say, they do well in the Six Nations and in one-off games against the Tri-Nations. I'm sure they realise themselves that to be truly competitive they have to do well over a long period of time."

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