Warriors icons Stacey Jones and Ruben Wiki will be inducted into the NRL Hall of Fame on Wednesday night, alongside premiership-winning St George captain and long-serving Australian Test prop Craig Young, and champion Newcastle, NSW and Kangaroos hooker Danny Buderus.
Jones and Wiki were among 25 players shortlisted, chosen ahead of the likes of Penrith great and foundation Warriors halfback Greg Alexander, Brisbane legends Steve Renouf, Kevin Walters and Michael Hancock, grand final-winning captains of the 1990s Geoff Toovey and Paul Harragon, Origin and Test luminaries Garry Jack, Michael O’Connor and Bob Lindner, and Souths greats of the post-war era Ian Moir and Les Cowie.
The former Kiwi captains were also on the 25-player ballot last year but missed out, with NZRL Player of the Century Mark Graham becoming the first non-Australian inductee to the NRL Hall of Fame, along with Petero Civoniceva, Cliff Lyons, Steve Menzies, Ricky Stuart and Gorden Tallis.
Jones, Wiki, Young and Buderus will take the total of players in the NRL Hall of Fame to 110.
— NRL (@NRL) August 12, 2019
Born: May 7, 1976, Auckland, NZ
Junior Football: Ponsonby-Pt Chevalier
Premiership Career 1995-2009: Played 261 (258+3). Tries 77, Goals 176, Field Goals 14, Points 674
First-Grade Debut: Warriors v Parramatta at Parramatta Stadium, 23/4/1995 (Rd 7)
Grand Finals: 1 – Warriors 2002 c (L)
Rep Career: New Zealand: Tests 46 (1995-2006), World Cups 1995, 2000, Tri-Nations 1999, 2005, 2006; Captained Kiwis in seven Tests.
Stacey Jones debuted for the Auckland Warriors against Parramatta during their inaugural 1995 campaign as a 19-year-old. After earning his first run-on appearance three weeks later, Jones pieced together a run of 100 consecutive first-grade games – a club record which still stands – and quickly became an automatic pick in the Kiwis’ No.7 Test jumper.
Jones was the Warriors’ Player of the Year in 1997, co-captained the club to its first finals appearance in 2001, and received the Golden Boot as the world’s best player after skippering the Warriors to the 2002 grand final solo, in which he scored one of the great individual tries in the code’s history.
The diminutive game-breaker left Auckland for Super League outfit Catalans at the end of 2005, but he returned to the Warriors for a memorable farewell campaign in 2009. He hung up the boots with then-records for most games (261), tries (77) and points (674) for the Warriors.
Jones was named halfback in the New Zealand Team of the Century in 2007.
Born: January 21, 1973, Auckland, NZ
Junior Football: Otahuhu Leopards
Clubs: Canberra, Warriors
Position: Centre/Second Row/Prop
Premiership Career 1993-2008: Played 312 (290+22). Tries 72, Points 288
Canberra 1993-2004: Played 225 (208+17). Tries 60, Points 240
Warriors 2005-08: Played 87 (82+5). Tries 12, Points 48
First-Grade Debut: Canberra v Souths at Bruce Stadium, 13/6/1993 (Rd 11)
Grand Finals: 1 – Canberra 1994 (W)
Rep Career: New Zealand: Tests 55 (1994-2006), Tri-Nations 1999, 2004, 2005, 2006 Captained the Kiwis in 18 Tests; World Cups 1995, 2000.
Ruben Wiki signed on a foundation Warrior for their 1995 premiership entry, but ultimately won a court ruling to stay with the Canberra Raiders – who he won a grand final with in 1994 – after a bitter and protracted dispute with the Auckland club.
But after carving out a legacy as one of the Raiders’ finest servants, the Kiwis Test veteran finally returned home in 2005 to join the Warriors. He was the Warriors’ Player of the Year in that initial season and racked up 87 appearances for the club, taking him past 300 first-grade games in total – the first non-Australian to reach the milestone.
Originally a centre, Wiki’s inspirational performances in the pack were integral to the Warriors’ top-four finish in 2007 and unforgettable preliminary final charge in ’08, retiring after the latter.
He captained New Zealand to a historic Tri-Nations triumph in 2005 and extended his record tally of Test appearances to 55 before stepping down from rep football at the end of 2006. Wiki was named in the New Zealand Team of the Century in 2007.