Eric Watson's open letter to New Zealand Warriors fans

By Eric Watson

Eric Watson with Simon Mannering. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Eric Watson with Simon Mannering. Photo / Brett Phibbs

When I bought into the Warriors in 2001 things were pretty dire, not only on the field but also the running of the club. Buying the club wasn't an ego trip or for a financial return, the investment was because of the importance it held to New Zealand and more importantly, to the fans. There was also huge potential for the Warriors to be something all New Zealanders would be proud of.

The Warriors have the most amazing fans in the NRL. Their passion and commitment is unrivalled to the point that they are the envy of the competition. This isn't surprising when their biggest fan is a man who not only has dedicated a great deal of his life to rugby league but who goes beyond the call of duty to support the Warriors - Sir Peter Leitch, The Mad Butcher.

We are incredibly grateful for the ongoing support of Sir Peter and all of our Warriors fans especially given the inconsistency of the team on the field. This is something we hope we will address this year with a stable coaching staff and with Jim Doyle leading the club.

It is fair to say that I am more excited, more committed and more passionate about my involvement with the Vodafone Warriors than ever before, so much so that I recently made the additional investment to own the Warriors 100%. You would have seen earlier in the week that I am taking on the chairmanship of the Warriors with Bill Wavish stepping down from that role but remaining as a director. I'd like to thank Bill for the outstanding job he has done chairing the Warriors during what's best described as a time of challenges, including ownership changes. I'm thrilled with our new board appointments of Owen Eastwood, Cameron George and Niki Schuck, we have excellent capability and unique skill-sets to draw on to strengthen the club.

In my opening paragraph I mentioned about the importance of the Warriors to the country and of course the fans. You just need to look to the All Blacks' World Cup win last year to understand the pride in being a New Zealander when we excel on the international stage. The Breakers and our numerous Olympians are other great examples and while sport engenders this feeling almost universally; the same can be said in the creative sector with Eleanor Catton's Man Booker Award in 2013 and with Sir Peter Jackson's copious awards for him and his team with the Lord of the Rings successes over the years. We love winners and winning because it makes us feel good, inspires us, entertains us and motivates us.

If you asked any NRL fan to name which clubs have a chance of making the top eight, you'd find they would have about 14 teams on their list. The competition is that tough and that close. In saying that the signings we've made for 2016 and beyond have enhanced our present NRL squad, helping us put together a group of players that we believe can take the Warriors to the heights we expect. We are determined to see our club achieve success in the years ahead by consistently being a side that makes the finals but also by going on to be a reliable winner of the NRL premiership on a regular basis.

Equally important are the individuals that make up the Warriors teams. In this area we are focused on growing and developing men who are, and in the future will become, outstanding members of the community on the field but equally important off the field, through the Warriors' involvement in the community. We want men who give their best 100% of the time, who constantly strive to improve themselves, who understand that they are part of a team on the field and at home and that their performance matters, men who respect women as their equals, who are connected with their families and who lead by example.

We are driven by our aim to be the most entertaining, most engaging and most respected club in the NRL.

I know in addition to myself that the Board, staff, players and those that truly care about the Warriors Club want a great 2016 season. We want to give our support to Andrew McFadden and to all of the teams that represent the club. This is very much the focus of the Board, management, staff and players.

Rest assured this owner wants what the fans want - to compete and to win every week, giving you a club to be proud of. The 2016 NRL Downer 9s and the 2016 NRL Telstra Premiership are upon us, get amongst it! I'll see you there.

#WarriorsForever

- NZ Herald

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