NRL: Wellington to become home away from home for Warriors

Warriors Chief Executive Wayne Scurrah. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Warriors Chief Executive Wayne Scurrah. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Wellington is to become the Warriors' first home away from home after being confirmed as the venue for the club's NRL clash against the Bulldogs in May.

While the Warriors took designated home games to Eden Park in 2011 and 2012 - and will do so again next year - the round nine match at Westpac Stadium will be the first time in 19 seasons the club will play a home game outside Auckland.

They have played in the capital on five previous occasions but only as the away team, with Canterbury-Bankstown and Canberra opting to take home games across the Tasman during the last decade.

When the NRL draw was announced last month, Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah revealed the club would play one of its 12 regular season home games elsewhere in New Zealand.

"It's hugely exciting for us and fitting as well that this landmark event in our history will take place in the nation's capital and at one of the best venues in New Zealand,'' he said.

"It's a fantastic opportunity for another part of the country to see the Warriors take on last year's beaten grand finalists.''

Confirmation of the match is set to mark a special homecoming for Wellington-born and bred Warriors prop Ben Matulino, while captain Simon Mannering was living in Wellington when he was signed by the Warriors.

Adding to the interest, the Bulldogs boast current Kiwis Sam Perrett, Krisnan Inu, Sam Kasiano, Frank Pritchard and Greg Eastwood, plus ex-Kiwi Dene Halatau and former Junior Kiwis Martin Taupau and Drury Low.

New Warriors head coach Matt Elliott said he certainly looked forward to returning to Wellington for what will be his second experience at Westpac Stadium as the nominated home coach.

"I was there with Canberra in 2003 when we took our game to Wellington to take on the Warriors,'' he said. "I have great memories of the visit, too. We spent quite a few days there and I've never forgotten how well the people in Wellington looked after us. They were awesome then so it's going to be terrific going back this time with us being the home team there for the first time.''

The decision to play a home match outside Auckland for the first time is in line with the NRL's desire to have games taken away from traditional home grounds.

- APNZ

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