Last week, Nigel Jones was appointed head coach of Leinster Lightning, in succession to Albert van der Merwe, and he officially takes charge at next weekend’s Twenty20 inter-provincial festival in Pembroke.

The current Ireland Under-17 coach, former Ireland international and Northern Knights all-rounder, has packed quite a lot into his first 16 years in Northern Ireland but it is just about to get a whole lot busier as he is committed to leading the NCU Premier League champions for the rest of the season as well as taking up the role of head coach and Pathway Manager with Lightning.

“A few people mentioned the job to me but I didn’t need much encouragement to put my name in the hat,” said Jones, “and after looking at the logistics it was a no brainer. It’s a role and opportunity I had been wanting and it’s come at a really good time.

“From a playing point of view I will continue to play for CI for the foreseeable future, that was part of my conversations with Cricket Leinster, but I’m a coach first, player second these days.

“The pathway manager side of the job was also a big attraction. For the last six or seven years I’ve been involved with Ireland U19s and U17s and at the interview I realised I’d worked with more than 20 Leinster players - and some for a considerable time.

“A lot of Leinster players have come through the system, the Tectors, Littles, Tuckers, who are all featuring at senior or Ireland Wolves level now and I’m keen from a pathway point of view that that production line continues,” he added.

“I’ve always had a lot of respect playing against Leinster, you know what you get, a healthy confident arrogance and very much winners. I see myself complementing that and bringing my twist to it, so excited about going to a strong union.”

When Jones arrived in Northern Ireland in 2003, from his native New Zealand, as professional at Cooke Collegians he was registered as Nigel Tubb.

“That was my birth name but I hadn’t a relationship with my biological father from an early age, my step father was my rock, got me involved in cricket and having been meaning to do it for some time, I changed my name to Jones in 2005.”

The following year he married a Lisburn girl whom he had met when he was pro-ing in Scotland in 2002 – Rosalyn was completing her degree at St Andrew’s University – settled down in Northern Ireland and joined Civil Service North where “I had eight great years before joining CIYMS”.

How long his stay at Belmont will be is up for discussion this summer but from next weekend, it is Nigel Jones, head coach of Leinster Lightning and as social media was keen to point out “a huge loss to the NCU.

If there appears to be a conflict between playing in the NCU and keeping tabs with players in Leinster, Jones has that worked out.

“It’s all about communication. As well as my knowledge of the players, I have a network of 4-5 guys I trust – they have already been helping Albert - and when I can get down the road, on a Sunday for example, I will be keen to get round a couple of games,” said the Kiwi who admits he will have to give up his head role with the Under-17s.

“I’ll select the squads for the summer programme but will then have to step back, although hopefully can continue coaching them in the winter, without the lead role. And I will be able to keep track of the Leinster boys involved.”

It’s the second major decision that Jones has had to make in his career here. Back in 2012, he quit as an Ireland player after just three and a half years, as his job as a Cricket Ireland Development Officer working in the NCU was expanded from 30 to 40 hours.

“Cricket Ireland weren’t telling me what to do but definitely asked the question ‘can you manage?’," he recalls.

"I was 30 and had just established myself in the T20 side but at the time (before professional contracts) I was looking for security for my family; my second child, Lucy, had just been born.

“But out of that I gained some great skills and knowledge and now to a fantastic opportunity with Cricket Leinster.”