Warriors' Jones set to bow out of NRL - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Warriors' Jones set to bow out of NRL

By Tamara McLean 03/09/2009 02:29:36 PM Comments (0)

He is recognised as the most influential rugby league player New Zealand has ever produced, but Stacey Jones is not one for self congratulations.

On the eve of a frustrating encore to his magical sporting career, the Little General is one game away from bowing out for good.

But the Warriors legend doesn't want any fuss or fanfare and insists it'll be a game like any other, undeserving of the hype thousands of Kiwi fans are expected to bring to Auckland's Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday to bid him a final farewell.

"Like I said right at the start when I decided to come back, I'll take it one week at a time and this is just one week," Jones said of the team's season finale against Melbourne Storm.

It's deja vu for the 33-year-old, who retired from the Warriors in 2005 after losing 16-4 to the Newcastle Knights, a result he hopes will not be repeated this weekend.

His comeback season has been a contrast of magic moments and harsh criticism, with many blaming the star for his side's disappointing season, that sees them head into the final round of the year sitting in 14th place on the ladder.

It's criticism that coach Ivan Cleary says Jones doesn't deserve.

"I actually think he's done well," Cleary said.

"I feel like the team around him probably hasn't performed as well as it could have."

Even so, Jones said he always knew he'd get flack if the team didn't shine, but he just "copped it and moved on".

"The results have been disappointing, there's no hiding from that," said Jones.

"And I'll be the first to admit I've been disappointed in some of my play but I've gone out there and tried to give it my best.

"I have no regrets with coming back, it's been good."

He readily acknowledged it was always going to be tough to get back to where he was when he quit.

Picking a key moment, Jones singled out making the 2002 grand final against the Sydney Roosters as his favourite memory.

"It's just a shame about the result," he said.

As for life after league, he said he'll be focusing on his family, his golf game and his Auckland subway franchise that opened at the start of the season.

"I've got and do a few hours in there. I think I'll slow the process up a bit if I do too much in there!" he joked.

There's no denying his influence over the game, with some of his harshest critics this week singing his praises.

Kiwi legend Hugh McGahan - who controversially said Jones' return was "a huge risk" and called for him to be dropped in July - said the halfback had made an enormous contribution to the sport.

"It's a sad day for him," he said.

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