Cool Stuff: Niko Jones— A young man who seized the opportunity
Honolulu, HAWAII — Last year's Olympic Qualifying Ocean 7s was an amazing almost magical event to cover. With a minimal budget and limited trained human resources, Pacific Islander Oceania Rugby Administrators, Lemalu Wayne Schuster and Biutoka Kacimaiwai fended off the incoming measles epidemic, and occasional severe downpours, to offer Suva, Fiji spectators the closest many would ever get to an HSBC 7s World Tour international event.
Noteworthy (sad for Cool Stuff) was Australia qualifying for the never happened now delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics over Manu Samoa in the waning minutes. A Japan corporate team also beating the "invitational" All Black 7s is probably now forgotten since we were remote to most of the rugby universe.
The Oceania 7s most long term impact might be the "birth" of NZ All Black, Niko Jones, who I shall dub "Baby Iceman", but predict soon to be "Iceman 2.0"
Niko Jones is the son of All Black/Manu Samoa legend, Sir Michael Jones and Malina Jones (Forsgren). Niko's heritage gives him strong blood ties to the Territory of American Samoa, Samoa, and New Zealand.
Cool Stuff was honored to capture Niko's All Blacks debut as he is a quality young man that seized the opportunity and proved deserved.
The creation of this photo was almost spiritual in inception.
Firstly it was pouring rain, which was solved by my fa'a Savaii little self invented faleo'o. Even if your camera is waterproof, your lens becomes rain streaked ineffective if you don't create a moving operational roof. Even Sir Michael gave my little fale a thumbs up.
Secondarily, my months old Nikon D500 camera body had an electronic part go bizarrely South...not simply Pago Bay South, but Antartica Totally Wacko South. Humidity from the rain?
Despite the funky electronic meltdown I shot Baby Iceman's first ever historic All Black Try manually, panning towards the try line, all along praying mentally in Hebrew that I would get one worthy image. Shalom uces, we & Niko both scored.
Thirdly, at the HSBC LA 7s this year I spoke on-field with the current All Black great Tim Mikkelson. Cool Stuff told Mikkelson that any time Niko "Baby Iceman" is on the field with him, he is officially "Uncle Tim Mikkelson".
Look how proud "Uncle Tim" is cheering on Niko to score that first ever All Black Try.
Cool Stuff is sure only Malina, Grandpa & Grandma Forsgren, and Sir Michael could be prouder. Expect plentee more golden moments for this humble, dedicated young man.