Stacey Jones dismisses NRL comeback hype - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Stacey Jones dismisses NRL comeback hype

By Robert Lowe 26/03/2009 02:53:18 PM Comments (0)

Stacey Jones is playing down the hype surrounding his spectacular comeback to the NRL, saying he's just happy to get game time with the New Zealand Warriors.

Jones starred last weekend on his return to the NRL after three and a half years, producing two defining plays against premiers Manly to help the Warriors to a come-from-behind 26-24 win.

But while his performance off the bench left commentators searching for superlatives, the master halfback was more low-key.

"I was just happy to get out there and get some game time, and to come away with a win was really good, especially over at Brookvale," he said.

"I just hope I can improve on my fitness levels because I really struggled out there.

"There's definitely parts of my game that I really have to work on.

"Coming off the bench is new to me and I've just got to go in with the right mentality of what my role is."

Jones, 32, missed the opening-round win over Parramatta because of a calf injury.

He came on during the first half against the Sea Eagles and ended up spending 48 minutes on the field.

He signalled he was still a major threat when he ran at the Manly defence just out from their line before throwing a flat pass that Nathan Fien couldn't quite control.

But it was his stunning kick and regather, which created a try for Brent Tate, and the pin-point bomb resulting in Jerome Ropati's score-tying touchdown that turned the contest.

Jones said he came through the match well and the recovery sessions and less intense than usual training sessions this week had helped.

He has again been included on the bench for the visit of the competition co-leaders Brisbane on Saturday night, with Fien and five-eighth Joel Moon retained as the starting halves.

Jones, who will be making a club record-extending 240th first-grade appearance, said he was happy to play wherever he was slotted in.

He said he was fortunate to get the chance to go on against Manly, citing the vacancy created by injury to livewire utility Lance Hohaia.

"Nathan Fien and Joel Moon have certainly been playing very well and they don't deserve to be dropped," he said.

"Lance Hohaia is probably always the first bloke picked in the team, so you get what you get really and I'm just happy to be given the chance to play."

Jones was equally modest when asked his reaction to skipper Steve Price's suggestion that he should become the first New Zealander to be inducted as an Australian rugby league Immortal.

Price told this week's edition of Sydney-based Rugby League Week, which created the Immortals concept, that Jones had played in the NRL, an Australian competition, for most of his career.

"That's Pricey," Jones said.

"I might buy him a Subway sandwich now," he added, referring to the fast-food franchise he operates.

The seven players honoured so far are Australians Bob Fulton, Graeme Langlands, Reg Gasnier, Clive Churchill, John Raper, Wally Lewis and Arthur Beetson.

Coach Ivan Cleary had no qualms about the heightened expectations surrounding Jones in the wake of his display against Manly.

"I guess Stacey has had 12 years of expectations," Cleary said.

"I think he can handle it."

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