Jones, Wiki set for Hall of Fame

Stacey Jones leaves the field with the Warriors in 2005. Photo: Getty Images
Stacey Jones leaves the field with the Warriors in 2005. Photo: Getty Images
Two legendary Kiwis will receive one of league's highest accolades tomorrow with their induction into the NRL Hall of Fame.

The governing body announced last night that Warriors great Stacey Jones and long-time Kiwis captain Ruben Wiki are part of the induction for 2019.

It's a prestigious honour and rare for New Zealanders.

Mark Graham, who served the North Sydney Bears with distinction throughout the 1980s, as well as being one of the best to wear the Black and White V in his 29 tests, was the first New Zealander honoured, with his induction last year.

Spanning 110 years of league history, across the professional competitions in England and Australia, there are 106 players in the NRL Hall of Fame.

Jones and Wiki were chosen from a shortlist of 25 nominees for 2019 which included such names as Steve Renouf, Greg Alexander, Paul Sironen, Paul Vautin, Michael O'Connor, Kevin Walters, Garry Jack and Gary Belcher.

Kangaroos and Dragons prop Craig Young and former New South Wales State of Origin captain Danny Buderus are the other two players to be honoured in 2019.

After settling on the shortlist, a voting college representing a cross section of the game selected their top five nominees. The four players were then selected through an independent audit of the votes.

Wiki was an NRL trailblazer for Kiwis in the early 1990s, making his mark when the New Zealand presence in most teams was limited.

An Otahuhu Leopards junior, Wiki was spotted by Raiders coach Tim Sheens and made his name in the twilight years of the famed Green Machine.

He was part of Canberra's 1994 Premiership winning team and accumulated 225 games for the Raiders across 14 seasons.

One of the toughest men to play the game, Wiki's time in Auckland is also fondly remembered, as he anchored the Warriors forward pack from 2005 to 2008, highlighted by finals campaigns in the latter two years.

Wiki was the first Kiwi to reach 300 NRL games, ending with 311.

Wiki, who transitioned from a hard running centre to a granite-like prop across his career, also captained the Kiwis in two World Cups (1995 and 2000) and was key to the famous 2005 Tri Nations triumph. His 55 tests were a world record when he retired.

Jones is often mentioned, alongside Simon Mannering, as the greatest Warrior. A product of the Pt Chevalier Pirates, Jones made his debut as a 17-year-old in 1995 and soon displaced Alexander at halfback, forcing the marquee Australian signing to play fullback.

Nicknamed 'the Little General', Jones was a shining light through years of near misses and struggle at Mt Smart, before his talents got the appropriate vehicle with memorable playoff runs during 2001-03.

He was superb in the 2002 season as the Warriors claimed the minor premiership, and his individual try in that year's grand final is regarded as one of the best scored on the NRL's biggest day.

Like Wiki, Jones had a glittering international career, playing 46 tests, stretching from 1995 to 2006.

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