Warriors easing Stacey Jones in

Ivan Cleary NZ Warriors NRL coachNew Zealand Warriors coach Ivan Cleary has confirmed this morning that returning half-back Stacey Jones will be eased into the 2009 season after a 12 month layoff from Rugby League.

Speaking on the 2KY Big Sports Breakfast this morning, Cleary confirmed that Jones has been eased back into training and will be given all the time he needs to reach peak fitness in the 2009 pre-season.

With the recent re-signing of utility Nathan Fien after a last minute meeting with Cleary, it’s more than likely that Fien could be used in an alternating role between hooker and half-back – something that will give Stacey Jones much more freedom in his twilight.

Having the luxury of rotating Stacey Jones on the bench could provide massive impact for the NZ Warriors and will shield the Kiwi star from injury and burn-out in his comeback year. Fien, who has carved his mark as a hooker in recent times – showed enough promise as halfback in the Rugby League World Cup to be a deputy for Jones in 2009.

The presence of Michael Witt should also help Stacey Jones; Witt continues to improve his kicking game in both long and short forms – allowing Jones to take a backseat and only put boot to ball when needed.

Cleary also confirmed it has been an encouraging and excited Stacey Jones returning to training; something that will surely rub off on Warriors team mates.

The New Zealand club certainly needs a boost; only recently losing young star Sonny Fai – something that Cleary said is almost impossible to put behind them.

“You just need to get on with general activities;” Cleary stated. And it seems keeping busy at training may be the only way for the young side to get over this tough time for all involved.

This week the scale of the search has been reduced significantly, with Cleary passing thanks to the emergency services and others of who gave many man hours to search for Sonny Fai.

Only time will tell how the Warriors side bounce back from this tragedy, the event could cause them total distraction or it could forge a new bond that takes them even further in the NRL competition this year.

With a talented young side showing plenty of ability last year; the addition of the experienced and proven Stacey Jones seems like the ideal sweetener to edge this young crew further in the tournament and on the back of recent Rugby League World Cup success – the supporters could be on-hand to help them build on 2008.

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