Kiwi great Stacey Jones has his sights set on coaching in the NRL, after leading the Warriors’ under-20s outfit to the Holden Cup premiership in his first year in charge.
The Warriors young guns became the first National Youth Competition side to claim the premiership from outside the top four in a dramatic run through the finals, which culminated in their nail-biting 34-32 win over Brisbane in Sunday’s grand final.
AS a player, Jones led the Warriors to their first grand final appearance in their 2002 loss to the Sydney Roosters in an 11-year career that spanned 261 NRL games.
He has been elevated to coach of the Warriors’ NSW Cup side the Auckland Vulcans for 2015 and said he would one day like to move another step up to the NRL.
“If I didn’t have aspirations to coach in the NRL then I shouldn’t be here,” Jones told AAP.
“You always have aspirations, but at the moment I am happy where I am, I have a lot to learn about coaching.
“I work closely with Cappy (current Warriors NRL coach Andrew McFadden) and everything he does, he has been a great help to me.
“I have learnt a lot from him and just want to keep doing that, it is great having guys like Cappy around to help.”
The Warriors have dominated the Under-20s competition winning three times since its inception in 2008.
After back-to-back titles in 2010 and 2011, they lost last year’s grand final to Penrith.
Jones said the 2014 premiership could transfer into success for the NRL side, who have not made the finals since their 2011 grand final defeat to Manly.
“Off the back of the 2010 win, when we won it the first time, the following year the NRL side went onto the grand final,” Jones said.
“So hopefully things like this does build the culture and when these boys do go up they are not dragging the chain but putting pressure on the players.”
Jones nominated grand final man of the match, centre Solomone Kata, who has been likened to Konrad Hurrell, and prop Kouma Samson as two of his premiership-winning players who could make an impact in the NRL next year.