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Warriors name Jones and World Cup stars

Published: 7:15PM Wednesday February 11, 2009 Source: NZPA

World Cup-winning Kiwis Lance Hohaia, Manu Vatuvei and Sam Rapira, plus the returning Stacey Jones and major new signings Denan Kemp and Joel Moon will all feature for the New Zealand Warriors in their National Rugby League trial against Melbourne in Hamilton on Thursday.

Coach Ivan Cleary hasn't confirmed his starting combination but every player named is due to spend time on the Waikato Stadium field.

It is the club's first of three warmup matches ahead of their NRL opener against Parramatta in Auckland on March 14.

The match will be great halfback Jones' first for the club in 1265 days. He last played for the Warriors against Manly on August 27, 2005.

Ex-Brisbane teammates Kemp and Moon will debut for their new club.

Winger Kemp was the Broncos' top tryscorer last year with 19 in 24 matches while Moon, who has been used mainly in the centres in his 31 NRL matches so far, is expected to feature at standoff on Thursday night.

Another newcomer making his club debut will be Auckland-born halfback Liam Foran, who will be facing his former club.

Apart from those players and the World Cup-winning trio, the Warriors will have other 2008 front-liners on show in fullback Wade McKinnon, centre-winger Aidan Kirk, hooker Ian Henderson, loose forward Micheal Luck and second rower Ben Matulino.

Also in the side will be 19-year-old prop Russell Packer, who made his NRL debut last year and was, with Matulino, named in the national youth competition's team of the year.

One of their Junior Warriors teammates Elijah Taylor, 18, has been confirmed in the squad tomorrow night along with other 2008 youth players Leeson Ah Mau, Isaac John, Daniel O'Regan and Mataupu Poching.

New second rower Jacob Lillyman had earlier been ruled out of this trial as he continues his recovery from shoulder surgery while Michael Witt (quadriceps), Evarn Tuimavave (neck) and new hooker Lewis Brown (hand) were also left out.

Captain Steve Price and centre Brent Tate will miss this trial as they work their way back to fitness.

Both were ruled out of last year's World Cup final, Price with a torn calf and Tate with a hip flexor problem.

In the same category is Kiwis centre Jerome Ropati, who survived the World Cup campaign despite a knee injury.

Halfback Nathan Fien (neck) and second rower Simon Mannering (groin) aren't playing against the Storm either.

Warriors squad: Leeson Ah Mau, Patrick Ah Van, Liam Foran, Ian Henderson, Aaron Heremaia, Lance Hohaia, Isaac John, Stacey Jones, Denan Kemp, Aidan Kirk, Epalahame Lauaki, Micheal Luck, Wade McKinnon, Ben Matulino, Joel Moon, Daniel O'Regan, Russell Packer, Mataupu Poching, Sam Rapira, Herman Retzlaff, Malo Solomona, Elijah Taylor, Manu Vatuvei