The Vodafone Warriors’ 20th anniversary celebrations have been handed a huge boost following the NRL’s decision to hold its glittering season launch in New Zealand for the first time next year.
NRL head of commercial Paul Kind today comfirmed the launch, one of the biggest social events on the NRL’s annual calendar, will be held in Auckland on Thursday, January 29, just two days before the two-day Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines tournament starts at Eden Park (January 31 to February 1).
Kind said Auckland will have the distinction of being the only centre where all 16 NRL clubs will be together at the same time during the 2015 season.
He added staging the launch in New Zealand gave the NRL the opportunity to pay tribute to the Vodafone Warriors in their 20th anniversary season as well as the Kiwis after their triumph over the Kangaroos in the Four Nations final last month.
Vodafone Warriors managing director Jim Doyle said the launch would add another dimension to the club’s landmark year.
“It’s a fantastic honour to have the launch in Auckland and the timing couldn’t be better for what is going to be a huge year,” he said.
“We have a lot of special plans in place for the season and this gives us the perfect start.
“It’s a terrific reward for and acknowledgement of everyone who has being involved with the Vodafone Warriors over the past 20 years, from former and current players and staff, to all our members, sponsors and partners.”
Kind said the launch would enable members and fans to recognise the diversity of the NRL season from the Nines right through to the Grand Final.
A special fan day will also be held in Auckland in conjunction with the season launch to give supporters the chance to meet their heroes from all 16 teams.
“The NRL season has so many different competitions and events and they should all be recognised as part of the launch,” said Kind.
“The Nines, All Stars, World Club Series, State of Origin and the Telstra Premiership are all key features of the rugby league calendar.
“And then we have the representative matches including Country Origin v City Origin and the Test against New Zealand.
“So there will be something for everyone in 2015 and we want to promote the full rugby league calendar in the 2015 launch.
“It is also fitting that New Zealand, which plays such an important role in our club and international schedule, has the opportunity to host the season launch.”
He said members and fans would again play a key role in the launch and season activities in 2015.
The dedicated fan day on January 30 will be held in Aotea Square in Auckland.
Representatives from all 16 teams will be on hand to greet supporters before the kick[off for the Nines.
Kind said clubs attracted more than 250,000 members for the first time in 2014 – and the aim was to beat that record in 2015.
“The more we can engage with fans at events such as the launch and encourage people to become members, the more secure our clubs will be in the future,” he said.
“Some of the clubs have already reported a surge in memberships since the grand final and our aim is to keep that trend going right up to the Telstra Premiership kick off on March 5 and beyond.”
More details about the launch will be announced soon.