Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck hopes the prospect of playing in front of a sellout crowd at Mt Smart can provide extra motivation for the team over the next six rounds, to avoid a 'dead rubber' scenario for that August match.
Earlier this month the club confirmed their round 22 game would be staged in Auckland, which will be their first match on New Zealand soil for almost two years.
The public have responded, with the fixture all but sold out, with barely any tickets still available.
That match, against the Bulldogs, is being billed as Tuivasa-Sheck's farewell game at Mt Smart – after six seasons and more than 100 games at the club - but he admits it will be bittersweet if there is nothing meaningful on the line.
"It's massive to go home, to play for our fans," said Tuivasa-Sheck. "It does feel special – they are putting it as my last home game and I am looking forward to it – it will definitely be an emotional time. But I want to go there and make it that we are playing for a final, not just playing back at home."
For the 28-year-old, it is vital the club are still playoff contenders ahead of that match, which would add much more spice to the occasion. That was illustrated during the return of the Wellington Phoenix last month, when massive crowds were drawn to Wellington and Auckland for the dramatic 'win or bust' contests.
"It's going to be special going over there to play, but what we want to look at is going over there and having more of a purpose to play because we want to play finals," said Tuivasa-Sheck
"We don't just want to go there to be at Mt Smart. We want to go there and have the support to get ourselves into the finals. Not just to go home and play my last game. I want to go there knowing that we're going to take the Warriors to the finals."
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
Tuivasa-Sheck hopes that carrot can provide some extra impetus for the team, who need to arrest a three-game losing streak. They are still in touch with the top eight – two points behind the eighth placed Sharks – but are running out of time to make their charge, as the equation gets tougher.
"I follow the Breakers so I've seen how they played here in Australia and then what they were able to do back home, said Tuivasa-Sheck. "But we need to get it within ourselves, we need to get each individual to fire up and be ready to play these next couple of rounds to make sure that when we do go home, it's for the finals."
The Warriors were well positioned after the first third of the season, winning four of their first eight games. But the second chunk of the campaign has been miserable, with only one win in six matches. That was the 30-26 result over the West Tigers, with losses to the Sea Eagles, Eels, Cowboys, Storm and Knights sandwiched around that.
Going on previous seasons, the Warriors will need to win at least six of their remaining 10 matches. That looks a tall order, though isn't completely out of the question, as they have a reasonable run home.
No game is easy in the NRL but the Warriors face only two genuine competition heavyweights in that time, in Penrith (round 18) and South Sydney (round 19).
Those games are balanced out with clashes against the current bottom four teams (Titans, Tigers, Bulldogs and Broncos).
They'll also face the Raiders, Sharks and Dragons, who are among a cluster of teams competing for the couple of finals spots.