PANTHER PRIDE | A big win for the mountain men tonight has them firmly entrenched in the top eight, ...
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Stacey Jones is to take over the Warriors captaincy in Saturday night's NRL encounter with the Rabbitohs in Sydney.
Now in his 11th and last season with the club, the 29-year-old 223-game veteran fills the void created by regular leader Steve Price's absence after his selection for Queensland in next week's opening match of the State of Origin series.
Head coach Tony Kemp said he was spoilt for choice with Kiwi captain Ruben Wiki another option.
"Ruben provides leadership with or without the captain's label and Stacey does the same," said Kemp.
"But Stacey is on the field for 80 minutes so we've gone for him in Steve's absence."
At the same time, Kemp said he had asked Jones to contribute more to the team's performance against South Sydney.
"Stacey and I talked about this after his display in the first match of the season against Manly and I've had the same talk following our loss to the Roosters last Sunday," he said.
"Basically I've told him he has to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and take control. Our defence is great and we're getting into good field position but we need Stacey to be the general inside the opposition's 20 (metres). That didn't happen last Sunday and he knows it.
"The halfback dictates the result and that's what we want from Stacey against Souths. We all know he can do it, and so does he."
In his second game back from a slight hamstring strain, Jones will again be partnered in the halves by standoff Sione Faumuina, one of the Warriors' standout performers against the Roosters.
The only changes in the line-up have been forced by Price's unavailability.
Richard Villasanti, who started in the second row against the Roosters, moves to prop while Awen Guttenbeil comes off the bench into the back row.
Returning to the squad in an interchange role is centre Clinton Toopi, who was left out of the side last week after Kemp raised questions about his lack of composure at critical times.
The match against Souths is a step back in time with the fixture transferred to North Sydney Oval, the home of one-time first-grade club the North Sydney Bears. The Rabbitohs were forced to find an alternative venue after a clash with the Super 12 rugby union semi-final between the Waratahs and the Bulls on the same night.
The Warriors have played at the ground twice before in 1995 and 1998 when they lost to the Bears.
The team is: 1 Brent Webb, 2 Francis Meli, 3 Todd Byrne, 4 Jerome Ropati, 5 Manu Vatuvei, 6 Sione Faumuina, 7 Stacey Jones (c), 8 Ruben Wiki, 9 Lance Hohaia, 10 Richard Villasanti, 11 Louis Anderson, 12 Awen Guttenbeil,13 Wairangi Koopu
14 Iafeta Paleaaesina, 15 Karl Temata, 16 Clinton Toopi, 17 Tevita Latu. 18th Man: Evarn Tuimavave.