Rugby league legend Stacey Jones received double recognition at the 2014 Maori Sports Awards in Auckland on Saturday night.
On a memorable night at the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau City, the 38-year-old was acknowledged for both his past deeds as one of the game’s greats and also for his 2014 accomplishments as a young coach on the rise.
In the first instance he was inducted into the Maori Sports Hall of Fame and in the second he was named the coach of the year in recognition of his efforts with the NYC premiership-winning Vodafone Junior Warriors.
On a night when top golfer Phil Tataurangi was also inducted into the Maori Sports Hall of Fame, Jones was honoured for a glittering playing career which saw him captain the Kiwis and the Vodafone Warriors as well as Les Catalans Dragons in the English Super League.
He amassed more than 350 appearances in total at the highest levels – 46 Tests for the Kiwis (1995-2006), 261 first-grade appearances for the Vodafone Warriors (1995-2005 and 2009) and 45 games for Les Catalans (2006-2007).
Only Ruben Wiki (55) has played more Tests for New Zealand while Jones’ 261 games remains a record for the Vodafone Warriors. Indeed he still holds the record for most points for the club (674), most consecutive appearances (100) and most field goals (14); and he had the mark for most tries at 77 until Manu Vatuvei stormed past him.
Jones had the distinction of leading the Vodafone Warriors in their first grand final appearance in 2002 – and scored a superb solo try – while he was named the club’s player of the year in 1997, won the New Zealand Rugby League player of the year crown three times and was named the best player in the world in 2002 when he won the Golden Boot. He was awarded the ONZM (Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit) for his services t=o rugby league in 2005.
The maestro provided coaching support late in his playing career and duly moved in that direction by coaching his old club Point Chevalier to success in the Auckland club competition.
It ultimately led to him becoming the Vodafone Warriors’ NYC coach in 2014. He and his team just sneaked into eighth place before making an unprecedented run by beating the Sydney Roosters, Newcastle, Parramatta and Brisbane to win the club’s third NYC premiership in five years.
Jones has now stepped up to the next level after being appointed the club's 2015 New South Wales Cup coach.