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42 hours ago
Kiwi officials are hoping a New Zealand victory on Friday will come with an added bonus - Stacey Jones for the remainder of the Tri-Nations tournament.
The mercurial halfback is set to pull the plug on his short-lived comeback to test football following the Ericsson Stadium tussle with Australia, having only made himself available to the Kiwis for the opening two games of the series to help them out during an injury crisis.
Jones flies out for France on Monday where he will begin his stint with new Super League outfit Les Catalans, but New Zealand coach Brian McClennan said the door was still open for the former Warriors halfback to change his plans and play on during the England leg of the tournament.
"We haven't ruled him out," McClennan said.
"We're still hopeful that Stacey will help us out. We're really grateful that Stacey helped us out for the first two, we were in a bit of dire straits.
"Our management team, we're novices really, and with players getting pulled out left, right and centre, we were in trouble and Stacey came in and helped us out.
"He's going to be over there anyway. He's pretty handy to us so we'll see if he can pop over and play in the games.
"We're pretty low key about it. It's Stacey's choice ... his commitments are in France."
Jones said he would make a final decision after the second match against Australia, but was still leaning towards not playing on. McClennan knows that a win would help boost New Zealand's hopes of talking the 35-test veteran into extending his international career a few more weeks.
"We've all got addictive natures, we're addicted to winning, so we want to do it again and he'll really enjoy it," McClennan said.
"It probably would help. Most importantly it'll mean he's really enjoyed himself and had some fun and when you're having fun you want to keep doing it."
Jones, who ended a two-year hiatus from the international arena when he starred for the Kiwis in their first up victory over their trans-Tasman rivals last weekend, would be a big loss for New Zealand should he again hang up his representative boots.
McClennan said he would afford Jones every liberty should he play on, including letting him miss part of the team's build-up for matches.
"If he could be training with us by Tuesday, Wednesday there'd be no problems," McClennan said.
More info: www.tri-nations.com.au Discussion: Tri-Nations Forum at http://forums.leagueunlimited.com/forumdisplay.php?f=130