4 days ago
Former Kiwis captain and Vodafone Warriors halfback Stacey Jones today announced his retirement from international rugby league.
Jones told a news conference in Auckland that he had played his last match for the Kiwis.
Halfback Jones, 28, has played 34 tests for the Kiwis since 1995.
He has missed the Kiwis' last two tests, both against Australia. He was injured last October and then pulled out of the trans-Tasman test in April, citing poor form.
Jones today said he had been affected by injuries over the past two seasons but he wanted to continue playing for the Warriors in the NRL.
"My form hasn't been great and there have been times when I thought about giving the game away completely," he said.
"I'm 28 now, I've been playing NRL football for 10 seasons and have two years left in the game.
"I feel like I need to give my all to the Warriors from now on and don't think I can go on fitting in international football as well."
A host of other Warriors players will be unavailable for the Kiwis' end-of-year rugby league test programme, including a tour of Britain and France.
New Zealand Rugby League chairman Selwyn Pearson today said forward Awen Guttenbeil had pulled out of contention for selection, citing a disappointing season.
He said five other Warriors were scheduled to have surgery after the club's final National Rugby League match against the Bulldogs this weekend.
They were forwards Monty Betham (arm) and Sione Faumuina (shoulder), and backs Clinton Toopi (thumb), five-eighth Lance Hohaia (knee) and Jerome Ropati (ankle).
The Tri-Nations series with Australia and Great Britain begins with a trans-Tasman test at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland on October 16.
The rest of the series will be in England, with the Kiwis also playing a one-off test in France in mid-November.
The Tri-Nations final will be on November 27.
Pearson added that Guttenbeil, by his own admission, had had an ordinary NRL season.
"His own words were that there are players playing better than him at the moment."
Guttenbeil has eight test caps, his last coming in the Kiwis' upset win over the Kangaroos at North Harbour last October.
Pearson also said second rower Ali Lauitiiti, who joined British club Leeds after parting with the Warriors in April, would be unavailable for at least the early part of the Tri-Nations.
But he quashed rumours that there was a falling out between Lauitiiti and Kiwis and former Warriors coach Daniel Anderson.
The player had planned for some time to visit his in-laws in the United States after the Super League season.
He was also feeling homesick and wanted to make a trip back to New Zealand to see his own family.
Pearson said it might be possible for Lauitiiti to join the New Zealand squad in the latter stages of the Tri-Nations campaign.
He admitted the Kiwis would go into the series missing a core of experience, with the absence of Jones and Hohaia causing particular concern in the halves.
"It's wealth of experience that's going to be hard to replace," he said.
"But Kiwis wearing that black jersey are pretty proud animals."
The national selectors are expected to name their initial train-on squad next week.