New Zealand's scrum-half, Stacey Jones, became a father in Auckland yesterday and almost immediately boarded a plane to England for tomorrow's Tri-Nations final. Jones' wife, Rachelle, gave birth to a boy without any complications and gave her blessing for him to fly 14,000 miles to face Australia at Elland Road. The Australian coach, Wayne Bennett, has predicted that Jones will be badly affected by jet lag, but a Kiwi spokesman said: "If anyone can do it, Stacey can." He will play alongside Nigel Vagana, who will come back into the side after serving a one-match ban for the tackle that ended Paul Deacon's tournament.
Bennett has told his two injured players, Craig Wing and Craig Gower, that they will have to prove their fitness. He is also thought to be considering using an extra prop, Steven Price, on the bench in place of the back-rower, Trent Waterhouse.
Ticket sales for the match have topped 25,000, despite the absence of Great Britain, whose coach, Brian Noble, is calling for a warm-up match before future tournaments. "We need to look at a fixture before the Tri-Nations for players not involved in the Grand Final," he said.
Castleford have signed the St George-Illawarra second-rower, Willie Manu, as well as the Cronulla prop, Danny Nutley.Reuse content