Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Warriors dads on fatherhood and the motivation behind their game

They play for the same team on the field, but they are also part of a special team off the field - fatherhood.

Warriors players Ryan Hoffman, Albert Vete and Simon Mannering have opened up about the blessings of being a dad and revealed their greatest motivations.

Tomorrow will be prop Vete's first Father's Day, after he and partner Whitney welcomed their first child, daughter Ariella, in June.

The 23-year-old admitted that becoming a parent had been crazy, but that the past three months had been a rewarding experience for him.

"To be a dad, it means more responsibility. Obviously you've got a little one depending on you and for me, that's just extra motivation to help drive through the tough times I have at training and at work.''

Becoming a father had also changed his mindset, particularly when preparing for a big game.

"I play for my family - I always have and now that I've got a wee family of my own, it's definitely put things in perspective. I definitely play for my little one now.''

Warriors captain Hoffman said he had always looked forward to being a dad one day and is now the proud father of Zach, 3, and 11-month-old Mia.

He said he enjoyed seeing his children's excitement and planning the big day with wife Mel.

"Father's Day takes on a whole new meaning when you're actually a father yourself. When you're a kid and before you have kids, it's all about someone else.

"So to have a day where it's dedicated to you - I just love seeing how excited my kids get, either getting presents or keeping a secret from me that they've done with their mum is something really exciting.''

Hoffman, whose father Jay Hoffman is a former Australian rugby league player, said family traditions he shared with his father were now things he now kept up with his own children.

"My dad played rugby league for the Canberra Raiders, so my memories of a kid is growing up going to training with dad and going to the footy - waiting for dad to come out of the changing room after games.

"To be able to share that same experience with my kids is certainly something really special."

Second rower Simon Mannering shares his parenting responsibilities with partner Anna. The couple have two children: Zeke, 2, and baby Jack, who was born in February.

Mannering, who celebrated his 30th birthday last week, said he was still getting used to celebrating Father's Day - being a fairly new dad.

"As a young fella, you always did something for your father on Father's Day. And now, to have some people you love dearly look at you in that same way on that day, it's pretty special.

He described fatherhood as being the best gift in the world.

"Some people don't get the chance to do that, so I'm very lucky to have my two sons. They mean everything in the world to me.''

- NZ Herald

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