Rugby League


Raiders rookie wants to make it third time lucky

IT HAS all the makings of the NRL's feelgood story for 2013.

Having given the game away and relocated his young family to Perth, journeyman forward Scott Jones can thank his wife for the precious third chance to live his rugby league dream with the Canberra Raiders.

The powerfully built second-rower eagerly accepted an invitation from coach David Furner to join the Raiders for pre-season training after a strong season with feeder club Mounties in the NSW Cup.

That was despite making the sacrifice of leaving his wife Natalia and three-year-old daughter Amaiyah in Western Australia, after going six months without seeing them when he moved to Sydney to join the Mounties in April.

Since joining the Raiders, Jones has been away from his family for six weeks before returning for the Christmas break.

The 24-year-old's punt is paying off, having earned himself a spot in at least one of the Raiders' three trial games, with the prospect of earning a full-time contract.


Jones was about to begin a diesel fitter's apprenticeship in Perth before Natalia convinced the former Junior Kiwi train-on squad member to have one final shot at making the NRL.

''My wife told me to have a crack at Mounties because I had nothing to lose,'' Jones said.

''It's always been a dream of mine to play first grade and funnily enough I've found myself here in Canberra. I'm just trying to learn as much as I can and hopefully earn a contract.''

The Auckland native has taken the long road to the NRL since he was a part of the inaugural New Zealand Warriors Toyota Cup team in 2008, where his teammates included current stars Kevin Locke, Russell Packer and the late Sonny Fai.

Jones moved to Australia the following year, trying his luck with the St George Illawarra Dragons and playing in the lower grades with Shellharbour.

A lack of opportunities forced Jones to weigh up his future, putting his family first and moving to Perth at the end of 2010.

''I gave up on footy,'' Jones admitted.

''Things were a bit tough for us at that time, so it made sense to move our family to Perth because we've got relatives there.

''I couldn't just say yes or no to [moving to Sydney], there were a lot of factors we needed to consider. It's a huge sacrifice that my wife was willing to make and we've reaped the rewards so far.''

Jones is one of two Mounties players who have been training with the Raiders alongside fellow back-rower Pat Galea.

Raiders coach David Furner said Jones had taken his opportunity with both hands and would be given a chance to press his claims in opposed sessions and in at least one trial game in the new year.

''We'll keep him here after Christmas and have a really good look at him,'' Furner said.

''He's someone there who's got potential to play first grade.''