Warriors eyeing Anzac Day game
THE Warriors are exploring making a pitch to bring the Anzac Day game to New Zealand.
Since 2009, it’s been a regular fixture for the Storm to host the Warriors each Anzac Day.
While the Melbourne-based club do a great job, there’s no reason why the Warriors couldn’t play a home game on Anzac Day, so that the special occasion could also be marked in New Zealand at a sporting event.
Other than when Anzac Day falls on a Friday or Saturday and coincides with Super Rugby games, there isn’t a New Zealand sporting event that day.
In Australia, there is the traditional Dragons versus Roosters game in Sydney each Anzac Day, as well as the Storm versus Warriors in Melbourne.
In the AFL, Collingwood plays Essendon at the MCG each Anzac Day in front of around 90,000 people and that is one of the highlights of the Australian calendar.
Warriors coach Stephen Kearney last week hinted it would be nice to play the Anzac Day game against the Storm in Auckland next year and the club’s CEO, Cameron George, confirmed they’re looking at it.
‘‘Those sorts of things are always on the agenda for us to review annually, where we can improve things, change things up,’’ George said.
‘‘Certainly, to be a part of such a special occasion like Anzac Day is great.
‘‘We did have a game here at Mt Smart few years ago.’’
That game in 2015 was when the Warriors hosted the Titans on Anzac Day as the NRL commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings, with five games played in five different cities over a 10-hour period.
The Warriors did a great job at marking the occasion that year, but since then they’ve been back in Melbourne on the day when the two nations come together to remember.
Questions are starting to be asked about why the Warriors can’t play in New Zealand on Anzac Day again.
‘‘There are certainly things subject to TV scheduling and time slots, for it to happen here,’’ George said.
‘‘It would probably have to be the first game and the traditional GETTY IMAGES Roosters versus Saints game would have to go second.
‘‘At the end of the day, we always review these sorts of things, but we haven’t put an official request in yet, but we will look at all of those options in the near future.’’
One option could be for the Anzac game to alternate between Melbourne and Auckland each year.
Expat New Zealanders in Melbourne come out in force for the game and they have helped make GETTY IMAGES it a special occasion, with the Warriors often getting as much support as the Storm at AAMI Park.
‘‘It’s become such a special occasion and to be a part of it is also great for the club,’’ George said.
‘‘It’s also good that our fans can come along and watch us on a day that means so much to all Kiwis.’’
Meanwhile, George said he will be having a conversation soon with Simon Mannering about the possibility of the club legend having a testimonial game next year with Kiwis and Dragons winger Jason Nightingale.
Both players reach the NRL’s criteria to be awarded a testimonial game and last week Nightingale told Stuff he’d be keen on it.
Mannering is in the last year of his contract and a testimonial game would likely be part of the discussions around staying with the Warriors for 2019 and beyond.
‘‘I’ll have a chat with Simon to see what he wants to do around that sort of thing,’’ George said.
‘‘It would be up to Simon, whether it interests him or not.
‘‘But they are things that players like Simon and Jason thoroughly deserve and they would get huge support for it.
‘‘But I’ll have that discussion with Simon around any testimonial celebration he may want, or may not want in the future.’’
‘. . . we will look at all of those options in the near future.’
Warriors veteran Simon Mannering on the charge against the Melbourne Storm.
Warriors CEO Cameron George wants an Anzac Day clash in Auckland.