Lance hoping to take NRC form across the Nullarbor
For anyone that’s watched Jono Lance star for NSW Country in this year’s National Rugby Championship, you might struggle to understand why the 25-year old hasn’t played much Super Rugby in recent years.
But parked behind Bernard Foley, Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau, Lance simply just never got a crack.
“It was frustrating. No one was getting injured and the Waratahs were playing so well, so you can’t really blame anyone or complain, that’s just how it went,” he told Rugby News.
“I lived with Bernard and I’m good mates with Kurtley and Issy so it was great to see them playing so well and I enjoyed watching them play good footy, but I was always hoping to get a crack.”
With the Wallabies trio all extending their contracts at Moore Park, Lance signed with the Western Force earlier this year and suddenly things started to turn around.
Playing with the Country Eagles in the NRC, Lance was brilliant in 2015 and a standout in almost every match he played.
His efforts were rewarded earlier this week, when he was announced as the tournament’s player of the year.
“As I said, I haven’t played much footy in the last few years and you do lose confidence when that happens so this NRC season has come at the perfect time,” he said shortly after receiving the award.
“I knew I was heading to Perth leading into the NRC, so I really wanted to use the tournament as a way to find my feet before that.”
Despite Lance’s efforts, the Eagles fell one competition point short of making the NRC finals for a second straight year.
“The most disappointing thing is that we felt we hadn’t played our best footy yet and we were getting ready with a full strength team to have a good crack at the semis,” he said.
Whilst the flyhalf admitted he was upset that he didn’t finish his time with the Eagles on a high, he was now focussed on doing whatever he needed to do to lock down the starting No.10 spot at the Force for the 2016 Super Rugby season.
“That’s the plan. The confidence that I’ve gained through the NRC is something I’ll be able to take with me into the pre season.
“There is a lot of talent in Perth and they’ve been doing some good things in the last few years, so I’ve just got to go over, work hard and try and earn that starting spot.
Although Lance can play almost anywhere in the backline, he said flyhalf was definitely his preferred position.
“When I’ve been given a crack at Super Rugby in the past I’ve always been playing out of position or I was getting moved around a lot, so the idea of maybe getting a full year playing in the one position is something I’m very excited about.”
And if his recent form is anything to go by, there is every chance of that happening, particularly after kicking at 86% through the NRC.
“I spent a lot of time on my kicking at school, but probably haven’t spent as much time on it over the last few years. These last few weeks I’ve been really focussing on it so hopefully it continues to improve.”