Warriors light up Waikato
01/12/2008 9:50 AM
The rebirth of Stacey Jones and the first sighting of three new signings are on the menu in the Warriors' pre-season opener against the Melbourne Storm at Waikato Stadium.
After announcing his shock comeback to a club he so faithfully served in 238 matches from 1995 to 2005, Jones will attempt to prove his worth in the Thursday night warm-up clash on February 12.
The Hamilton crowd will also witness former Broncos Denan Kemp, Joel Moon along with Cowboys recruit Jacob Lillyman pulling on a Warriors jersey for the first time.
Kemp, a noted speedster, is certain to take a starting wing spot for the 2009 NRL season, State of Origin representative Lillyman is a strong option in the second row while Moon has a tough job in jostling for a position in the halves.
As many as 14 players from the Kiwis and Kangaroos' World Cup squads will be able to be called upon, along with victorious Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney in his role as Storm assistant.
The Warriors have Lance Hohaia, Manu Vatuvei, Jerome Ropati, Simon Mannering, Nathan Fien, Evarn Tuimavave and Sam Rapira from the Kiwis while also including Kangaroos players Steve Price and Brent Tate.
The Storm have no shortage of international stars themselves in Kiwis forwards Sika Manu and Adam Blair, while they also boast three Kangaroos in captain Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Greg Inglis.
Another point of interest comes in former Warriors favourite Wairangi Koopu's return to New Zealand in Melbourne colours. The back-rower was unwanted by the Warriors past 2008 after 159 NRL appearances for the club and was subsequently snapped up by the Storm on a one-year deal.
Both teams are committed to bringing their full squads for the fixture.