The Knights Academy has enjoyed a multitude of success since it’s inception but the latest triumph arguably trumps them as 19-year-old flanker Sam Jones completes the most remarkable of rugby comebacks to pen a professional contract with the Knights.
The teenager joined the Academy ahead of the 2016/17 campaign but was dealt a crushing set back as, just a couple of weeks into pre-season, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma; an uncommon form of Cancer that is most prevalent in young adults in their early 20s.
Sam’s treatment required him to undergo fortnightly Chemotherapy as his new teammates began their British University & College Sports [BUCS] campaign. Sam continued to train around his treatment, doing non-contact drills and gym work until receiving the news he’d been longing for in December 2016 – the all clear.
Sam scored a hat-trick on his debut for the Academy before going on to be an integral part of the squad that lifted the BUCS Northern Conference Plate last season and his potential saw him called into the Knights training squad for pre-season.
Following a successful summer Jones went on to feature in all three pre-season fixtures before making his competitive debut for the Knights in September’s Championship win over London Scottish. Sam has gone on to notch five first team appearances, including starts in British & Irish Cup clashes against Leinster A and Bristol.
Speaking on the news Director of Rugby Clive Griffiths Said. “Sam is a real success story for the Club, a fantastic example of local talent coming through the ranks and a player who wants to play for the Knights.
“He has really impressed in his time with us, you wouldn’t think when you watched him playing against Bristol away or Newcastle in pre-season, facing international opposition that he was a 19-year-old learning the ropes.
“I believe Sam will benefit from full time professional training with experienced pros like Michael Hills and Jack Ram as mentors and I’m expecting his game to flourish accordingly.
“Sam will continue to study at Doncaster College next season whilst I’ll be mimicking Coach Carter to make sure he stays on top of his academics as well as his rugby.”
The signing of a professional contract marks a huge landmark for the Knights Academy and Academy Head Coach Ants Posa says he couldn’t be happier for his young talent. “We are all over the moon that Sam has got his first professional contract with the Club.
“Sam and his family showed great faith in our Academy system, he turned down offers from illustrious universities to become a part of what we are doing here and that faith has been repaid due to the incredible work and effort that Sam has put in.
“Sam has shown that the pathway here at Castle Park is very much working and now our focus is to develop more players to a standard that they can go on to be the next Sam Jones.”
DKTV caught up with Sam today to talk about signing for the Knights, check it out.