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28 hours ago
New Zealand have confirmed that Stacey Jones will play for them in Saturday's Gillette Tri-Nations Series final at Elland Road.
The former Test skipper, who has already made four comebacks in the last two months, is currently back home in Auckland with his wife Rachelle preparing for the birth of their third child and will fly back to England in time to line up against defending champions Australia.
?That really shows how important the Kiwis jersey and his team-mates are to Stacey,? said Kiwis coach Brian McClennan.
?I can't say enough good things about him, he really has shown his dedication and commitment. It's great to have him back again.?
The 29-year-old scrum-half first retired from international rugby 18 months ago after an apparent disagreement with then coach Daniel Anderson.
He made his return under new boss McClennan for the opening Tri-Nations match in Sydney on October 15 and also played in the return game in Auckland.
His new French club Les Catalans then agreed to release him for the Kiwis' first match against Great Britain at Loftus Road and, after seeing his replacement Lance Hohaia withdraw from the squad with an ankle injury, was persuaded to play in the second game against the Lions and last week's Test against France.
Saturday's game will be his 40th, while captain Ruben Wiki, who became the most capped international earlier in the tournament, will make his 50th appearance for his country.
?The game is special for Ruben and it's just great to be able to be alongside him to mark this occasion,? said McClennan.
?This is going to be one of the toughest test matches any of these players has faced.?
The Kiwis are expected to be at full strength, with Nigel Vagana returning from suspension to renew his half-back partnership with Jones.
However, they will be without second row forward Frank Pritchard, who has been ruled out of the team following a head injury suffered in the Kiwis? 38-22 win over France in Toulouse last Friday.
He was detained in hospital overnight and, although he returned with the squad to England on Sunday, coach Brian McClennan is taking no risks.
?No game is so important to take a risk with somebody?s head injury,? he said. ?The concussion was quite serious.
?We decided it was in his best interests not to play. He?s so disappointed but Frank has got a great future ahead of him. He is a young boy and we hope we get this opportunity again and that Frank is in the team.?
22 year old Penrith Panthers player Pritchard has yet to figure in a losing side in the series. He played in New Zealand?s opening 38-28 win over the Kangaroos in Sydney and was on the bench for their 42-26 win over Great Britain at Loftus Road.
But the Kiwis have a wealth of second row forwards, with David Kidwell, David Solomona and Ali Lauitiiti competing for the two spots at Elland Road.
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Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this news.
More info: www.tri-nations.com.au Discussion: Tri-Nations Forum at http://forums.leagueunlimited.com/forumdisplay.php?f=130