French new boys capture New Zealand legend Jones

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The Independent Online

The French newcomers to Super League next season have made their key signing with the acquisition of one of the world's great scrum-halves, Stacy Jones.

The Kiwi, capped 34 times, has been given a release by his club, the New Zealand Warriors, from the end of this season and has signed a letter of intent to join Union Treiziste Catalane, who are to change their name to Perpignan for their entry into Super League.

The 28-year-old Jones has been with the Warriors for 11 years and retired from international rugby last year. His signing is a major boost for Perpignan's credibility in what is bound to be a difficult settling-in period.

"To secure the signature of a player of Stacy Jones' calibre is tremendous for the UTC club," said their coach, Steve Deakin. "He is truly a world-class player and will bring fantastic skill and flair to our new team as well as massive experience of rugby league at the top level."

Jones's successor in the Kiwi team, Thomas Leuluai, has tipped his side to spring a major surprise by beating Australia in the Test in Brisbane today.

"We may not have the best players on paper, but when you pull on the jersey a lot of the boys grow an extra leg and play out of their skins," said the London Broncos scrum-half, the only British-based player in the New Zealand squad.

Leuluai will not have to face St George-Illawarra's forward Jason Ryles. He is out with a hamstring injury and is replaced on the Australian bench by Trent Waterhouse of Penrith.

The former New Zealand Test coach, Frank Endacott, has dropped four players from the Widnes side to face Leeds tomorrow after their dismal display against Salford on Sunday.

Those named are the forwards, Matt Whitaker and Sala Fa'alogo, with two more to be added to the cull when the line-up is finalised.

"Last week's result was unacceptable," Endacott said. "I couldn't go through what I went through last week. I've dropped four players and, quite honestly, I was within a hair's breadth of dropping four more."

Jamie Durbin, a half-back on loan from Warrington, will make his Super League debut.

Adam Bibey and Paul Alcock are also added to the squad and Julian O'Neill returns after injury.

Wigan have taken Leeds' giant prop, Wayne McDonald, on loan for the rest of the season to reinforce their depleted pack and he goes straight into their squad for tonight's game at Bradford. Kris Radlinski and Danny Orr are both out of Wigan's team with shoulder injuries.

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