Greg Jones eager to build on impressive Ospreys performance as Ulster prepare for Cheetahs test

Guinness PRO14, Kingspan Stadium, Belfast 27/9/2019'Ulster vs Ospreys'Ulster's Greg Jones scores their second try'Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Tommy Dickson
Guinness PRO14, Kingspan Stadium, Belfast 27/9/2019'Ulster vs Ospreys'Ulster's Greg Jones scores their second try'Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Tommy Dickson
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An injury to Jack Conan at the World Cup in Japan had huge consequences for Ulster back row Greg Jones.

Jordi Murphy was pencilled in to start against the Ospreys last Friday night but he was pulled from the match squad, thrusting Jones into the fray from the first whistle.

And the Dubliner grabbed the opportunity with both hands, scoring a try, making 13 carries and 12 tackles.

Jones said: “[It was] Definitely my first try, I scored one in the first warm-up but those don’t really count as much, I’ll count it anyway; great to get a try as well because they don’t come around very often.

“I think it was about 11 in the morning (when Jones found out he was starting) so I had a good bit of time to mull it over; when you’re subbing for the back row you have three different positions to potentially cover, so I got some great prep early in the week and I felt like I was ready to step in.

“Dan gave me a call and told me that Jordi might be heading out to Japan, so that was great for him and great for me too,” he added.

“I played a lot of ‘eight’ at school and then at club; played a good bit at Banbridge, played a good bit at UCD, so I’ve played there a lot; haven’t really played [in that position] yet here, [but] had a bit of experience there so it wasn’t a drastic change.”

Jones has been named in the 28-man squad travelling to South Africa for clashes against the Cheetahs and the Southern Kings and he is looking forward to getting some game time.

“I actually travelled last year but I didn’t get a minute, I was 24th man for both games,” he said.

“It was tough; I did a bit of fitness in Bloemfontein the last time, so I got to experience the altitude conditions a bit - that was tough.”

Jones knows the Cheetahs are going to be a tough proposition in their own back yard.

“We know it’ll be a massive challenge, they performed really well in the first week, they’re also coming off the back of a very good Currie Cup campaign.

“It’ll be a very different challenge; they’re quite different to the Ospreys in terms of there’s going to be a lot of quick taps, quick throw-ins: they’ll constantly try and up the tempo of the game.

“We know it’ll be a very different challenge, [it’s] going to be a massive challenge because they’re coming off the back of some really good performances.”

The 23-year-old is hoping he can become a regular in the Ulster match day squad this term after a handful of appearances in his first two seasons.

“Going into the year I guess I teed up a goal of getting involved in games at the start of the season and then taking it from there,” said Jones.

“There’s a bigger picture there but you don’t want to look too far down the line; if I can get myself involved in squads and try and perform well when given the chance, that’s all you can really ask for: hopefully they come, but all I can keep doing is performing when given a chance.”