Storm well aware of the Jones factor - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Storm well aware of the Jones factor

By John Salvado 02/09/2009 04:38:34 PM Comments (0)

The Melbourne Storm are ready for the Warriors to stand up big-time for the Little General.

The Storm travel to Auckland knowing a victory on Saturday over the injury-ravaged Warriors will guarantee them fourth spot and a home final at Etihad Stadium the following week.

But a loss could see them drop to sixth.

And standing in their way is a team desperate to end a disappointing season on a high and honour halfback Stacey Jones in his 261st and final NRL game.

"In terms of what he means to them, they've got a couple of guys in Simon Mannering and Manu Vatuvei who are injured and listed as not likely to play, but they are as keen as mustard to play," said Storm assistant coach Stephen Kearney, who was Jones' clubmate from 1995-98 and is the current New Zealand coach.

"I don't know (if they will) but I think they will be doing their all to get there and that's a wonderful sign of respect for Stacey.

"He's been there since the very start and also spent a couple of years away.

"They will be looking to try and finish off their season on a good note."

Jones, 33, has worn some of the blame for the 14th-placed Warriors' disappointing 2009 campaign.

But Kearney insisted any such criticism was well and truly misplaced.

Storm halfback Cooper Cronk said the Melbourne players had not sat down as a team to talk specifically about the Jones factor.

"But we're obviously aware of it," he said on Wednesday.

"Stacey is not only a great person for New Zealand rugby league but a great bloke for rugby league in general.

"No doubt they've got their reasons to play good football on Saturday but we've also got ours.

"We've been a team that worries about what we can do and what we can control.

"We can't control what the crowd's going to say or not say or what Stacey Jones is going to do in the first five minutes of the game.

"We're aware it's a big game for a certain individual and their club.

"But we're going over there to do what we need to do and play things the way we need to play to hopefully make some noise in the coming weeks."

Jones will be hoping for a better result than in his earlier "farewell" game for the Warriors in 2005, when they lost 16-4 to Newcastle.

He then spent two years in Europe with the Catalans Dragons and another season as the Warriors' kicking coach before being enticed back for one more NRL campaign by coach Ivan Cleary.

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