War­riors eye­ing An­zac Day game

Sunday News - - SPORT - DAVID LONG

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.

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