There is no greater way for a young player to learn than playing regular first-team Rugby League.
That is a philosophy London Broncos academy graduate and first-team player Jacob Jones can certainly relate to.
Jones signed his first full-time professional contract with the Broncos in November of last year and has already cemented himself as a regular in Danny Ward’s matchday squad.
After starting his Rugby League journey with the Birmingham Bulldogs, Jones progressed to play for Crosfields ARLFC and Midlands Hurricanes.
But it was a season-long spell with Coventry Bears that concluded in a nomination for League 1’s Young Player of the Season that sticks out in Jones’ mind as a career highlight.
Jones reflected on his career so far with Broncos’ media team ahead of Newcastle Thunder’s Betfred Championship visit on Sunday (3pm).
“League 1 is an excellent grounding for any young player,” said the former England University team player. “You come up against a mixture of experienced Championship players and those from the Super League that have come down.
“The standard is strong, it was a great place for me to learn. Coming up from League 1, the speed of the game and contact in the Championship is noticeable. Every asset of the game steps up, but I have really enjoyed that challenge.”
Jones experienced a limited 2020 campaign which was impacted before the COVID-19 pandemic struck as he recovered from a knee injury.
After making a full recovery during lockdown, the prospect of being coached by Danny Ward and his backroom staff in 2021 excited him. But there is still an element to the Broncos’ experience that Jones misses dearly – the fans.
“Having a crowd in the stadium provides any team with a huge boost,” said Jones. “We really miss them. When they can safely return, I am sure their presence will help inject an extra one per cent into our game so we can make our home a real fortress.
“The pandemic has been tough for many people. We all consider ourselves very fortunate to be able to continue working through it.
“Of course, we have had to adapt training and work in our bubbles. But team spirit this year is very strong and I know a lot of the players from my time in the academy so there is a strong sense of togetherness.
“Newcastle are a strong team and have the ability to hurt us if we’re not on our guard. It will be an intense game but one we are ready for.”
You can watch every moment of the Broncos’ home match against Newcastle Thunder on Sunday via a live stream of the game by purchasing a matchday pass here.
Kick-off is at 3pm.