Warriors inspired by Anzac spirit
The Warriors will look to channel their strong connection to the services this weekend in the return of the traditional Anzac Day game against the Melbourne Storm.
The fixture, cancelled last year because of Covid-19, is regarded as one of the most important on the NRL calendar, eagerly anticipated by both clubs.
It’s particularly significant for Warriors duo Kodi Nikorima and Jazz Tevaga, whose respective fathers served in the army – the latter of which is still active – as well as coach Nathan Brown, whose dad served in the Vietnam War with the Australian military.
His father’s service, as well as other family members’, is a key motivator for Tevaga, who knows the tone will be set during the moving blackout ceremony at AAMI Park, which includes the Last Post and a minute silence.
‘‘It’s a big occasion. It’s one of those games where it almost feels like semifinal footy,’’ Tevaga said.
‘‘It touches me because of my connection to the services through my father and a couple of my family members, it really hits home. When we get out there they put on a big ceremony, there’s a lot of adrenaline pumping through you and you just want to go out there and play for those loved ones.
‘‘I’m proud ofmy dad and I look up to him. I know this is a special week for him and his boys. I want to try and put one on for them.’’
Prior to heading to Melbourne, a Warriors contingent will attend a ceremony at the Davistown RSL, near the squad’s base in Terrigal, to pay their respects.
The group, which includes Brown, Tevaga, Nikorima, captain Roger Tuivasa-sheck and senior players Tohu Harris and Addin Fonua-blake, will lay a wreath before presenting the club president with a team jersey.
Brown said his father’s experience in Vietnam was not something they spoke much about, more so the camaraderie that has stood the test of time with those he served alongside. But he’s proud of the way the NRL and other sports have respectfully embraced the Anzac spirit.
‘‘It touches me because of my connection to the services through my father and a couple of my family members.’’
Brown coached the Dragons in the mid-to-late 2000s when, for the most part, their match against the Roosters was the only fixture held annually on Anzac Day. Since being added to the schedule in 2009, the Storm-warriors game that honours the trans-tasman alliance has become equally as big, while the Wests Tigers and Manly will also play on Anzac Day this year.
‘‘It was many, many years ago that the Dragons and Roosters was the only real Anzac Day game. In the AFL you had Collingwood and Essendon, so we were the two major drawcards,’’ Brown said.
‘‘Now there’s obviously a number of NRL games and a number of AFL games – it’s become quite a big day for sport.’’
As for the game itself, the Warriors have history against them as they attempt to win their first Anzac Day game since 2014 and snap a nine-match losing streak against Melbourne.
The Storm play a fast-paced style and thewarriors will need to learn the lessons from three weeks ago against the Roosters, who exposed the Kiwi side in that area.
Other than that, a big part of their preparation has centred on belief.
‘‘One of the biggest things is you have to go into the game thinking you can do well,’’ Brown said.
‘‘Obviously, the Storm have built such a great reputation over the past 20 years and the Roosters likewise. At times teams don’t give themselves a chance in their own mind and thought process. So first and foremost, you’ve got to go into the game thinking you can actually do well because if you don’t, you’re beaten before you get there.’’