Tate pleads with Jones to play on

Warriors centre Brent Tate has urged brilliant halfback Stacey Jones to consider playing on beyond 2009 after the veteran no.7 inspired his side to a stunning 26-24 win over premiers Manly in his first NRL game in more than three years.<br><br>Jones retired from rugby league altogether in 2007 after two years with French club Catalans Dragons and has signed only a one-year deal with the Warriors this season after coach Ivan Cleary pleaded for his return.<br><br>But having set up two late tries yesterday – including a brilliant chip-and-chase to send Tate across the line – Jones has already done enough to convince team-mates he should play on.<br><br>“When you think about it, he is still only 31,” Tate told NRL.com today. “It’s not like he is 33 and right at the back end of his career – I still think he has a good couple of years left in him. <br><br>“I’m sure when people heard that Stacey was coming back they were thinking, ‘gee, he has been around forever’, but I think he still has a lot to offer. <br><br>“He showed that yesterday.”<br><br>Asked if he had spoken to Jones about the future, Tate replied: “I don’t think he has even thought about it himself.<br>&nbsp;<br>“He was asked to come back and give us a hand this year, which he has already done. I know he is going to play a huge part in how our season shapes up. <br><br>“But if he feels good and he is playing well, who knows? Hopefully he considers it.”<br><br>Certainly Jones’ experience was telling.<br><br>Introduced for the first time with eight minutes of the first half remaining, he was relatively quiet for the best part of 30 minutes before suddenly exploding into action when needed most.<br><br>His first run saw him jink his way through the line and throw and pass inside to Nathan Fien, who should have scored but spilled the ball over the try line.<br><br>Moments later he went one better by spotting space behind the line, chipping over the top, regathering and then dummying past the cover defence to send Tate over.<br><br>And he secured the win with a last-minute kick that ended up in the hands of Jerome Ropati.<br><br>After falling one game short of the grand final last season, Tate said Jones was the X-factor that could take the Warriors all the way in 2009.<br><br>“I think he is exactly what we needed – that experience that he brings and coming up with the right play at the right time,” Tate said. <br><br>“Stacey has been around for a long time and he knows his footy. At the back end of last year we probably fell short in that department. <br><br>“I mean, Nathan Fien played great when he moved to hooker yesterday too so that gives Ivan a nice headache when it comes to choosing those halves.”<br><br>It wasn’t such a happy weekend for every side, however, particularly Canberra and Wests Tigers who crashed to big defeats against Sydney Roosters and North Queensland respectively.<br><br>The common denominator was that both clubs contested Monday Night Football in round one and they appeared to struggle with the short turnaround.<br><br>“The Tigers had one day less than us and they had to travel to North Queensland as well but they did look flat,” Raiders chief executive Don Furner said.<br><br>“Realistically it’s the same effect as is playing on the Sunday and then the Friday but it is definitely a short turnaround.<br><br>“It could also be the fact that it’s the start of the year and nobody is used to that turnaround yet.<br><br>“It’s hard to say, we’re not making excuses, but it could have been a factor.”<br><br>