The Warriors could be going stateside.
A United States politician is heading a multi-million dollar consortium, which includes current and former NFL players, in an audacious bid to buy the NRL club.
The group, with representatives in the United States, Tonga and New Zealand, want to bring the glitz and glamour of the NFL – as well as American sporting know how – to the Warriors.
They are believed to have a war chest in the tens of millions and hope to change the face of global sport, by making the Warriors the first professional sporting organisation in the world to be owned and run by people of Polynesian and Pacific Island heritage.
"In the entire history of professional sports, pretty much until now, Pacific Islanders have essentially been seen as great athletes and players on the field and nothing more beyond that," syndicate CEO Richard Fale told the Herald on Sunday.
"We perceive this as an opportunity to take that next step in the evolution of Pacific Islanders and sports, something that could move the needle for our communities.
"At the moment we are recognised for our athletic prowess and we are still trying to assert ourselves on the world stage beyond that. We have a shared, unified vision of where we want to take the Pacific community."
Fale was born in Utah but grew up in Tonga. He moved to Hawaii for university, before a stint with the US army, which included time serving in Kuwait. Fale then turned to politics, and has been an elected Republican member of the Hawaiian House of Representatives since 2013.
He leads a consortium that includes "five or six" current and former NFL players, most of whom have long standing links with the oval ball.
"They had originally all played rugby as little kids," said Fale. "Now they are retiring they want to get back to the sport of first love."
Fale, who has family in Auckland, says the group had been interested in the sports ownership model for a long time, but the sheer economics of American sports, where franchises are valued in the billions, made it prohibitive.
"That is not a field you can make a play in," said Fale. "Across the major worldwide sports, it leaves you with the rugby and rugby league. When this opportunity came up…we had to look at it.
"It's still new for us and there are a lot of differences in the approach to professional sport but we have made a lot of progress."
As reported in the Weekend Herald yesterday, Fale's group are seen as the leading contenders to purchase the club from the NRL, though several other parties, including the Auckland Rugby League, remain in the mix.
Fale has high hopes for the struggling franchise, which hasn't made the finals since 2011, churning through five coaches in that time.
"If we end up owning the club, I would expect us to be in a position to win a championship by 2020, the 25th anniversary of the club," said Fale. "I can't see any reason why that wouldn't be the case."
Owner Eric Watson confirmed last August that he was open to selling the club he has held since 2001.
Warriors executive chairman Jim Doyle declined to comment on the American bid, only saying: "In regards to the potential sale of the Vodafone Warriors, all of our dealings with any party are private and confidential."
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