Warriors coach relishes good dilemma - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Warriors coach relishes good dilemma

By Tamara McLean 29/01/2009 05:11:34 PM Comments (0)

New Zealand Warriors coach Ivan Cleary is relishing the "good dilemma" posed by the return of Kiwis great Stacey Jones.

Nathan Fien's late season form surge at halfback last year coincided with the news that Jones was to come out of retirement to rejoin the NRL club in 2009.

Fien's hot streak helped the Warriors snatch a finals berth then go from eighth to a play-off for a grand final berth before he helped steer New Zealand to its stunning World Cup triumph in Australia.

But Jones, returning on a one-year deal, is a halfback legend, not to mention the Warriors' record NRL appearance holder (238 from 1995-2005) and tryscorer (75).

Cleary says it's too soon to say who will be handed the No.7 jersey for the start of the NRL season but both men will get a go in the first trial game against Melbourne in Hamilton on February 12.

"There's a dilemma but it's a good dilemma though," said Cleary on Thursday.

"We've got two great players who can play it (halfback) and we've got some young guys who can play the position too so we're probably healthier there in that crucial role than we have been, ever."

Others in the frame, including Michael Witt and Aaron Heremaia, will also get a "reasonable crack at it" in the lead-up to the home round one game against Parramatta on March 14.

"The aim is to give everyone a go to try to secure that first round," Cleary said.

He said 32-year-old Jones was showing good form in training, and while there were still unanswered questions about how he would go after more than a year out of the game since his Super League stint with the Catalan Dragons, it was "so far, so good".

Fien said while he hadn't been promised a position he was keen to nail a spot somewhere in the halves.

"I like playing five-eighth as well," the former North Queensland half said.

"I enjoy it, and over the back end of last year I was playing my best football in the halves. That's definitely where I want to be."

He said Jones' return was already having a positive impact on the younger players, a benefit captain Steve Price also noted.

"There's huge benefit playing alongside a guy like Stacey Jones," Price said.

"These kids were probably four or five years old when he made his debut so it's a massive thing for them.

"They'll learn a lot and Stacey will get a lot from it too."

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