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The Stakes Are High For Stacey
Warriors playmaker Stacey Jones risks missing the entire finals series if he attempts a premature return from a groin injury, the National Rugby League club's doctor said on Wednesday.
Jones wasn't named in the Warriors' side for Sunday's clash with Brisbane at Ericsson Stadium, but club officials insist he will be monitored daily with a final decision on whether he plays to be made on Saturday.
However, Warriors doctor Chris Hanna has warned against fast-tracking Jones back from the injury - a partial tear of his adductor muscle - which he suffered in last month's test against Australia.
"He's very little chance of playing at all," Hanna said on Wednesday.
"I saw him on Monday and he was 70 per cent. He's also a chance of having an exacerbation of the injury at this point in time.
"I still think the risk of injury is high."
The Warriors can afford to err on the side of caution with Jones after results went their way at the weekend.
Cronulla's win over St George Illawarra on Saturday night meant the New Zealand side, despite losing to Newcastle, only needed one more win to assure itself of a place in the finals.
They follow Sunday's game against Brisbane with a replay of last year's grand final against the Sydney Roosters at Aussie Stadium before closing out the regular season by hosting the Wests Tigers at Ericsson Stadium.
Lance Hohaia has filled in admirably for Jones in recent weeks, but the Warriors are itching to have their on-field general back.
However, Hanna stressed Jones could miss the finals series if he came back too early.
"From the outset I said it was a six week injury," Hanna said.
"It's only been four weeks this week.
"It's possible that it could become a complete tear.
"That could be up to three months.
"You have to balance the pros and cons."
The Warriors have struggled without Jones in recent seasons and his return is considered vital if they are to challenge for a place in the grand final.
The club has won less than 40 per cent of its games since 1998 without Jones.