Warriors push for 2023 stay-at-home season

George Clarke |

Warriors chief executive Cameron George has called for every one of the club’s NRL games in 2023 to be played in New Zealand.

The Warriors last week got the green light to return home to Mt Smart Stadium for their round 16 clash with the Wests Tigers on July 3 following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

The club can return sooner, should they wish, but George said he wanted the club to remain based in Redcliffe until they have the chance to play in front of a packed house.

But in the following season, he says he wants to have the Warriors playing in New Zealand every week to reboot the sport in the country.

“It works for the game, because it can inspire the next generation and gives something back to the Warriors after being on the road for three years,” he told AAP.

“You’re dealing with a country that provides a large percentage of the talent pool of the NRL.

“It’s important that the game looks at it because we haven’t had a professional presence here in New Zealand and we need to put rugby league back in the lap of Kiwis.”

The Warriors have spent the past three years on the road, using the Central Coast and Redcliffe as their home venues.

After giving up that advantage, George hopes to have the tables turned and believes the other 16 NRL clubs in 2023 can benefit.

“For the entire season we would like to see the Warriors playing in New Zealand, but not with home ground advantage,” he said.

“We’d play our home games at Mt Smart and then instead of playing Canberra, for example, in Canberra, you take the game to Dunedin.

“I think there’s a very big opportunity today for the New Zealand government to try and rebuild the economy with visitation to places like Christchurch, Wellington or Dunedin.

“People are probably sceptical about travelling long distances, but it’s only a three-hour flight to get to New Zealand and then you’re straight back to Australia.”