Stacey Jones appointment a bold move

Last updated 05:00 16/06/2013
Stacey Jones
BIG RESPONSIBILITY: Warriors great Stacey Jones will coach the Junior Warriors in 2014.

Relevant offers


Court case against NZ-born winger Denny Solomona is set to be adjourned Kiwis star Tohu Harris will miss the start of the NRL season after breaking his foot Cronulla Sharks skipper Paul Gallen not rushing into retirement call Kiwi winger Jordan Rapana wants to be more 'ruthless' for the Canberra Raiders Young Warriors prop Sam Lisone ready to step up for injured Ben Matulino Two selection issues for Stephen Kearney ahead of Warriors season opener NRL CEO Todd Greenberg gets backing for handing betting cheats life bans NRL won't register contract for controversial prop Matt Lodge in 2017 Police investigating betting allegations made against Wests Tigers' Tim Simona Wests Tigers' Tim Simona allegedly arranged bets on players to score tries against his team

The new broom at Mt Smart continues to sweep the changes, with Junior Warriors coach John Ackland on his way at the end of the season and Stacey Jones in the hot seat.

OPINION: It is a bold move to appoint the 261-game Warrior to the high-profile role. Yes, he has mana and a wealth of league experience but, save for coaching Auckland's Pt Chev Pirates with Awen Guttenbeil, his credentials are pretty slim. Can the Little General guide his Juniors to the Australasian league youth competition promised land just as he led the Mt Smart team around the paddock in his heyday? Time will tell.

Ackland's departure was more telegraphed than a Feleti Mateo offload. Talk of a rift between new Warriors coach Matt Elliott and the Juniors mentor had been well publicised, though Elliott was on record once again last week saying no animosity exists.

The club is keen to make the transition a smooth one. But the suspicion is that behind the scenes this has not been an entirely bloodless coup.

Ackland has been the resolute - some would say grumpy - face of the Juniors since 2010. In that time the team have won the U20 title twice, in his first and second year as coach, and were knocked out of the playoffs in the second round last year.

That's a pretty decent record by anyone's standards.

With ever-changing personnel, Ackland has kept the side performing and developed youngsters into NRL stars - such as Shaun Johnson and Elijah Taylor in 2010 and Konrad Hurrell in 2011.

You could argue he is to league what Gordon Teitjens is to rugby sevens.

Many will question why the club is getting rid of him at all.

Whether Ackland quit or was pushed is a moot point. This is more about the Warriors organisation regaining control of its youth side. Ackland wanted his U20s side to have the best players on offer. This has led to salary cap issues for the Juniors.

Elliott prefers a franchise model where the reserve grade team - the Auckland Vulcans - features the more talented U20s youngsters. It comes down to a clash of philosophies and the appointment of Jones means Elliott won.

The losers in this whole affair may be the Warriors themselves. Next year Ackland may well be scouting for other NRL teams or coaching an U20s side against the Juniors.

Warriors fans may also suffer. A Juniors side without its stars - who will be playing reserve grade - will invariably not reach the highs of the past.

Ad Feedback

Jones was a great servant to the Warriors. If anyone has the standing to influence these league kids in a positive way, he does. But there is no doubt what lies ahead for the Little General is shaping as his toughest battle yet.

- Todd Murray is Fairfax Sundays sports editor

- Sunday News

Special offers
Opinion poll

Who is your pick for international league player of the year?

Shaun Johnson

Jesse Bromwich

Sam Burgess

James Graham

Greg Inglis

Johnathan Thurston

Vote Result

Related story: (See story)

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content