The 33-year-old New Zealand full back led a second-half Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers comeback against Kerry Hotel Kowloon during the first game of the Hong Kong men’s premiership season, scoring a hat-trick in the span of a few minutes. The Tigers ended up winning 31-26.
Jones is in the process of selecting his 30-man roster for a trip to France in November where the national squad will participate in a repechage tournament for the final spot at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
While Stone isn’t currently part of the national team programme and only recently became eligible to suit up, his play in the opening match exemplifies the many conundrums Jones will face in the coming weeks. The Marseille tournament will see the team play against Germany, Kenya and Canada, in that order from November 17 to 23, in a winner take all format for the final 20th spot.
Stone said he knows his chances of making the roster are “pretty slim” but that is not going to stop him from trying to impress the national team coach up until November when Jones has to submit his official list.
“I’ll give it a crack, the Hong Kong coaches have said that reputation doesn’t count for much,” Stone said. “And also that none of last year’s performances count, it all goes on the first rounds, so I’ll put my best foot forward for France.”
Jones delivered a decisive statement in a recent Hong Kong Rugby Union press release, noting he expects some “high profile casualties” in naming his roster and that he will basically use the first five rounds of the premiership to select his squad. He added any player who made the squad last season could be cut if they “can’t regain their form or work ethic from last season.”
“That’s the nature of professional rugby,” he added. “You can’t select players on potential or past performance, you have to go on form.”
Story : South China Morning Post