Wellington’s Westpac Stadium will be the Vodafone Warriors’ home away from home for the third consecutive year after confirmation today that they’ll host St George Illawarra in the Capital on Saturday, August 8 next year.
Managing director Jim Doyle said while other options were considered for the club’s one out-of-Auckland home game, Westpac Stadium provided the most compelling case.
“Our trips to the Capital in the last two seasons have proved how much the Vodafone Warriors mean to our members and fans in Wellington and the wider region,” he said.
“While we will play 11 games at our home at Mount Smart Stadium next year it’s important to us that our 12th home game gives supporters in other parts of the country the chance to see the Vodafone Warriors.
“We had average crowds of more 26,000 for our games in the Capital in 2013 and 2014.
“As well as that Westpac Stadium was the scene of the Kiwis’ Four Nations victory over the Kangaroos last month.”
Westpac Stadium chief executive Shane Harmon said the Vodafone Warriors had made a real impact since bringing a home game to Wellington for the first time in 2013.
“We’re absolutely delighted to have the Vodafone Warriors at Westpac Stadium for the third year in a row,” he said.
“Their visits to the Capital in the last two years have generated big interest and we expect more of the same with next year’s clash against the Dragons.
“We’d encourage people from around the region and further afield to make plans now for what will be a big weekend when the Vodafone Warriors come to town again.”
Wellington City deputy mayor Justin Lester said the addition of a Vodafone Warriors match next season ensures 2015 will be a huge year for Wellington sports fans with five sporting codes and two World Cups using Westpac Stadium.
“We’re stoked that the Warriors have chosen Wellington for the third year in a row for their annual home game outside of Auckland. The Warriors enjoy huge support across the Wellington region,” he said.
“We also welcome the St George Illawarra Dragons to the Capital for the first time and we extend a warm welcome to their fans to take the short trip across the Tasman in August.”
The Vodafone Warriors’ 2015 squad boasts seven players from the Kiwis’ Four Nations team plus England’s Sam Tomkins, Kangaroo Ryan Hoffman and Toa Samoa’s Dominique Peyroux.
Former Kiwi captain Benji Marshall headlines a Dragons squad which also includes Kiwi winger Jason Nightingale, Josh Dugan, Trent Merrin, Ben Creagh, Gareth Widdop and George Rose plus former Vodafone Warriors Dane Nielsen, Leeson Ah Mau and Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard.
The Vodafone Warriors lost narrowly to Canterbury-Bankstown in the historic ‘Capital Clash’ in 2013; it was the first time they had played a designated home game outside Auckland. In this year’s second trip to Wellington they dazzled on their way to a 42-18 victory over the Tigers.
When the 2015 draw as released on Monday, it showed the Vodafone Warriors had been given a run of three consecutive home games against Manly, Cronulla and the Dragons from round 20-22. The first two will be played at Mount Smart Stadium before the Vodafone Warriors meet the Dragons in Wellington on August 8.
In what will be the club’s 20th anniversary season, the match sets up another homecoming for Wellington-born and bred props Ben Matulino and Charlie Gubb. Centre-winger Ngani Laumape and new recruit Api Pewhairangi were born and raised in Palmerston North, Nelson-raised captain Simon Mannering was living in Wellington when he was signed by the Vodafone Warriors and major acquisition Hoffman also has links with the area. He attended Hutt Intermediate School when his family moved to Wellington in the mid-1990s.
VODAFONE WARRIORS - 2015 NRL DRAW
(NB: local kick-off times listed)
1 Sat March 7, 4.30pm | Knights, Hunter Stadium
2 Sun March 15, 6.30pm | Raiders, GIO Stadium
3 Sat March 21, 5.00pm | Eels, Mount Smart Stadium
4 Sun March 29, 2.00pm | Broncos, Mount Smart Stadium
5 Mon April 6, 5.00pm | Storm, AAMI Park
6 Sat April 11, 7.30pm | Wests Tigers, Mount Smart Stadium
7 Sat April 18, 5.30pm | Cowboys, 1300SMILES Stadium
8 Sat April 25, 2.00pm | Titans, Mount Smart Stadium
May 1-3 | Anzac Test
9 Sat May 9, 5.30pm | Sharks, Remondis Stadium
10 Sat May 16, 3.00pm | Eels, Parramatta Stadium
11 May 22-25 | Bye
12 Sun May 31, 4.00pm | Knights, Mount Smart Stadium
13 Sat June 6, 3.30pm | Rabbitohs, NIB Stadium
14 Sat June 13, 8.00pm | Roosters, Mount Smart Stadium
15 Sat June 20, 5.30pm | Titans, Cbus Super Stadium
16 Sat June 27, 5.00pm | Raiders, Mount Smart Stadium
17 July 3-6 | Bye
18 Sun July 12, 4.00pm | Storm, Mount Smart Stadium
19 Sun July 19, 2.00pm | Roosters, Sydney Football Stadium
20 Sat July 25, 5.00pm | Sea Eagles, Mount Smart Stadium
21 Sat August 1 | Sharks, Mount Smart Stadium
22 Sat August 8 | Dragons, Westpac Stadium
23 Sat August 15 | Panthers, Sportingbet Stadium
24 Sat August 22 | Cowboys, Mount Smart Stadium
25 Sun August 30 | Wests Tigers, Campbelltown Sports Stadium
26 Sun September 6 | Bulldogs, ANZ Stadium
1 September 11-13 | Qualifying Semi Finals
2 September 18-19 | Semi Finals
3 September 25-26 | Preliminary Finals
4 October 4 | Grand Final