For the fifth straight season the Vodafone Warriors take on the NRL's longest trip this week when they head to Perth for Saturday's 19th-round clash against Manly at nib Stadium (3.30pm kick-off local time; 7.30pm NZT).
Now sitting seventh on the NRL ladder with an 8-8 record, the Vodafone Warriors fly out with Air New Zealand on Thursday on the 5340km, seven-and-a-half-hour haul to Western Australia (due to arrive at 5.50pm local time).
The Vodafone Warriors have been frequent flyers to Western Australia, this being their eighth trip there.
They started with matches against Perth/Western Reds in 1996 and 1997, back in the days when Perth was one of the four new clubs brought into the Winfield Cup in 1995.
They didn’t return until 2005 when Cronulla took a home game there before the current run of visits began with Manly in 2012 followed by South Sydney the next three years.
While the Vodafone Warriors are yet to win in Perth, their involvement in the four games in the last four seasons has resulted in 20,000-plus crowds each time, the vast majority of those in attendance being ex-pat Kiwis there to support the Vodafone Warriors.
When Manly first hosted the Vodafone Warriors at Patersons Stadium (Subiaco Oval) in 2012, a crowd of 20,095 was in attendance to see the Sea Eagles steal a dramatic late 24-22 win after the Vodafone Warriors had led for much of the contest.
The next three years the Vodafone Warriors made the long trek to take on South Sydney the attendances were 20,221 (2013), 20,267 (2014) and 20,727 (2015).
It’s significant that the Reds only twice topped 20,000 during their existence while games in Perth involving teams other than the Vodafone Warriors in recent times haven’t come close to 20,000 crowds.
For instance, the Rabbitohs and Brisbane drew a crowd of only 15,559 in 2012 while the Bulldogs’ ‘home’ game against Melbourne last year had an attendance of 12,014.