New Zealand All Black great: Michael Jones
With a reputation as one of the all-time greats of world rugby, legendary calm and superior leadership qualities, Michael Jones has long been an ambassador for both his sport and his country.
For Rugby World Cup 2011, Michael Jones now has an official role as one of New Zealand’s six Rugby World Cup ambassadors and as the face of the RWC 2011 Volunteers programme - the ideal role model for the 5,000 Kiwis needed to ensure the success of the Rugby World Cup next year.
The former flanker and number eight - who was voted by Rugby World Magazine as the third best All Black of the 20th century - has a proud history of achievement as a rugby player and latterly as a coach.
John Hart, who first selected Jones to represent Auckland, called him "almost the perfect rugby player" and former All Blacks coach J J Stewart labelled him "a freak".
But in some circles Jones is better known for his attributes off the field - modesty, consideration for others, determination, leadership skills and commitment to his religious beliefs and principles.
Michael Jones earned the nickname "the Iceman" or "Ice" for two reasons - because of the cool but confident manner in which he played, and the number of icepacks he needed for injuries.
La’auli Michael Niko Jones - born in 1965, of Samoan descent - initially played as an open side flanker, making his provincial debut for Auckland aged 20 in the 1985 National Provincial Championship.
He played for the New Zealand Colts, and in 1986 made his international debut for Western Samoa, qualifying for inclusion through his mother’s nationality.
After one cap for Samoa, and a British tour with the New Zealand Barbarians in 1987, Jones played for New Zealand in the first game of the inaugural World Cup that same year. He also scored the first try of the 1991 Rugby World Cup.
Jones' career was blighted by injuries, notably two serious knee injuries (1989 / 1997) and a broken jaw in 1993.
While Jones was usually first choice whenever his physical condition allowed, he only played 55 international games during a period when New Zealand played almost 90 internationals.
That was partly due to Jones’ strong Christian beliefs as he refused to play on Sundays. Although he was selected for the 1987 and 1991 All Black RWC squads, Jones missed three Sunday games in the 1991 tournament. He was then omitted from the 1995 squad as he would have been unavailable for the quarterfinal and semi-final games.
Jones was a member of the successful Auckland and Auckland Blues teams that dominated New Zealand rugby in the late 1980s and 1990s.
Between 1985 and 1999, Auckland won nine NPC titles, five Super 6 championships, and defended the Ranfurly Shield a record 61 consecutive times. The Blues also won the first two Super 12 competitions in 1996 and 1997.
In 1997 Jones succeeded Zinzan Brooke as captain of Auckland and the Blues.
Michael Jones is recognised as one of the most influential players in New Zealand rugby - with a reputation as an outstanding openside flanker, then later as blindside flanker and No 8.
During his playing career, Jones notched up 55 tests for New Zealand and scored 13 international tries.
In 1998 he was dropped from the New Zealand team at the age of 33, and retired at the end of the 1999 season.
In 2004 Jones was appointed national coach of Samoa, replacing New Zealander John Boe. He had previously served as Boe's assistant during the 2003 World Cup.
After a disastrous 2007 Rugby World Cup campaign in which Manu Samoa won only one game, lost to their arch-rivals Tonga for the first time in seven years, and finished fourth in their group, Jones resigned as coach.
He has remained a positive role model, particularly for Pacific Islander youth in New Zealand and in 1990 received a New Zealand Medal for service to the Pacific Island community. The addition of La’auli to his name is a matai / Samoan chiefly title.
Jones graduated from the University of Auckland with three degrees: B.A., M.A. and B.Plan. In 2003 he was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame.
Michael Jones has been appointed as an ambassador for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, along with fellow rugby greats Sean Fitzpatrick, John Kirwan, David Kirk, Andrew Mehrtens and Jonah Lomu.
Kiwi rugby stars ambassadors for 2011 RWC
Hands up Kiwis - RWC volunteers
NZ All Black great: Andrew Mehrtens
NZ All Black great: David Kirk
NZ All Black great: John Kirwan
NZ All Black great: Jonah Lomu
NZ All Black great: Sean Fitzpatrick
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