New Zealand Warriors
Ground: Mt Smart Stadium
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Formed as the Auckland Warriors in 1995 before rebranding as the New Zealand Warriors in 2001, the Warriors have known relative success in their short history with 2 visits to the NRL Grand Final in their first 20 years of existence.
The club have also enjoyed success in the reserve grade, with 2 titles in 2010 and 2011; where they have developed a number of New Zealand players who have now gone on to represent their country.
The Warriors fan base is large and vocal which has led to their fans been known as the ‘Warrior Nation’ and even when playing over the Tasman Sea in Australia, the Warriors always have a big following.
The club play their home games in Auckland although thy do take at least 1 game as season ‘on the road’ to Wellington to showcase the sport across the country.
The fact they are an expansion team and that so many New Zealand stars have come over to Europe to play has also lead to a large following within the UK.
The Warriors act in a similar way to the Catalans Dragons in Europe, by being the starting point for many New Zealand players. This of course has led to the international side becoming the world champions and if this success could be repeated by the Warriors, the game in New Zealand could be propelled to a whole new level.
On the field, the Warriors are a bit of a yo-yo team, some season they will easily finish in the top 8 but other seasons they struggle towards the foot of the table. This just goes to highlight the high quality of the NRL competition, which you can enjoy watching.
New Zealand Warriors NRL
As the sole representative of New Zealand in the NRL, the Warriors not only have the expectation of a city on them but of an entire country but that is something that have managed to handle well to date.
The cub have also become a key part of developing not just Kiwi internationals but players from across the Pacific Islands including bringing through lots of Fiji, Tonga and Samoa players that have helped them to become top countries on the international stage.
It is no surprise therefore that the club attract fans not just from the suburb pf Penrose where the clubs ground is located but from all over the capital as well as throughout New Zealand.
Penrose is located around 10km south-west of the urban centre but it is well connect by road and rail to all parts of the North Island.
The club play the majority of their matches at Mount Smart Stadium which is built into the remnants of the Rarotonga / Mount Smart volcanic core, which gives the complex a large bowl shape.
The stadium doe sallow for fans to sit and stand behind the sticks but in the main it is the 2 large all seater stands down both touchlines that houses the majority of the up to 30,000 fans in attendance.
The stadium is perhaps best known to fans on this side of the world in Britain as the host venue for the 2017 World Cup Semi-Final against Tonga when the stadium was not just packed but had people stood around the boundary, all dressed aside from a few England fans, everyone was dressed in red and sporadically broke out in hymns to support their country in what was not just one of the greatest spectacles in Rugby League’s history but in the history of sport.
As a club that not just represents the city of Auckland but the whole of New Zealand, the team take a handful of matches on the road each ear with multiple venues hosting the club in cities such as Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, and Rotorua.
During the pandemic hit season of 2020 and 2012, the club including coaches, managements and playing staff all had to base themselves across the Tasman in Australia with the Central Coast Stadium in Gosford playing host to the Warriors.
As you would expect, the clubs main nickname is simply the Warriors and whilst there official name is actually the Vodafone Warriors, due to sponsorship reasons, many still know them as the Auckland Warriors.
As a relatively new club and one that is literally isolated from the rest of the competition that it plays in, the club do not really have a true rival but whenever the club plays a game, there is always the extra pride of a New Zealand club taking on and hopefully, from their supporters point of view, defeating an Australian opponent.
Colours / Playing Kit
The club have 2 colour schemes that many would associated with them in such a way that no matter which colours they take to the field in, you instantly recognise them as the Warriors.
Their traditional colours are blue and green as it was in those colours that the club started life under the Auckland Warriors brand.
Since becoming the New Zealand Warriors, the cub have more often featured in either grey or black and red.
Rugby League in the city of Auckland has a long history going all of the way back to 1909, with the bulk of New Zealand internationals coming out of the cities sporting leagues and having to head over to Australia or England to challenge themselves in a more professional setting.
The city also provided combine teams to pay against touring sides and countries and an Auckland side played in the Australian Amco Cup and in 1987, a representative side from the Auckland league toured Great Britain and defeated the likes of Leeds and Wigan.
That seemingly brought to the attention of officials in Australia the viability of an Auckland based expansion club and after a few years of discussions and some work by the Mt Albert club, the New South Wales Rugby League announced that an Auckland based club would join their Winfield Cup competition and the club would become known as the Auckland Warriors.
In 1995, the club would join the ARL and played their first match against the Brisbane Broncos at Mount Smart on the 10th of March 1995 when a sold out crowd of 30,000 fans saw a great game that the Warriors lost by 22 points to 25.
The club just missed out on the play-offs but with the emergence of star half back Stacey Jones, there were lots of positive for the fledgling side.
During the Super League wars, the club sided with the Super League and that turned out to be a bad decision as after the combined leagues formed the NRL, it led to a number of years of financial issues for the club and poor performances on the field.
That led to lots of changes off of the field, including changing the clubs name to the New Zealand Warriors and taking on the new colour scheme of grey/black and red and a new focus on developing local talent.
That paid off instantly as the club reached their first finals series in 2001 after finishing in 8th place although they did suffer a record breaking 56-12 loss against the Eels in that first appearance.
It was still a sign of great improvement however and that was topped off in 2002when the club not only finished top of the table for the first time and in doing so they picked up their first ever Minor Premiership title but they then went on to reach the Grand Final, but they came up just short in a loss against the Roosters.
2003 saw the club reach the finals once again but then things went wrong as by 2004, they had dropped down the table to 14th and needed a rebuild once again.
That took a few years however as it was not until the 2007 when they retuned to the post season finals, which was something they managed for the next few season, aside from a dip in 2009 before once against reaching the Grand Final in 2011, but this time they finished the regular season in 8th.
That seem to hit the confidence of the club as they dropped back down the table and failed to reach the finals again until 2018, when they finished in 8th place once more and that is how the club stand at the moment.
They can be either be great or poor with little middle ground and whilst that does lead to the side been frustrating for fans, it does make for some exciting and action packed matches for all fans of the sport to enjoy.
New Zealand Warriors Live Streaming
Thankfully, there are now a number of options for watching the sport live, including the games featuring the New Zealand Warriors.