Dad and grandpa the driving force for rookie Warrior

As he ran out to make his Telstra Premiership debut on Friday night against the Cronulla Sharks, Adam Pompey said thoughts of his father and grandfather were a constant presence among the flurry of activity in his head.     

Adam Wetere Moses Pompey – known simply as 'Wets' by teammates – was a late inclusion for the Warriors' 19-18 victory over the Sharks in Wellington, following the injury withdrawal of front-line wingers Ken Maumalo and David Fusitu'a.

Post-game he posed with his teammates kneeling front-and-centre, Kodi Nikorima to his left, Sam Lisone to his right, to make the significance of the moment. 

As part of his son's jersey presentation prior to the game, Pompey's dad William performed a solo haka which triggered an emotional response.  

"When he did my jersey presentation I wanted to cry… I held back the tears," Pompey told NRL.com.

"Just seeing his effort to do that in front of the NRL team, it was very special to see that from my dad, that he had that heart to perform the haka for me.

"My dad taught me a few things in sport, but it was mainly my uncles and my grandpa [who taught me to play].

"Unfortunately my grandpa died in 2017. He played a big part in my footy career and I can't thank him enough.

"I wish he was here, he would have been so proud to see me run out onto the field."

Halfback Blake Green, who kicked the winning field goal against the Sharks, said the jersey presentation had left even the most experienced squad members on the verge of tears.

"It was beautiful to be honest and sort of brought a tear to everybody's eye," Green said.

"It brings it all back to reality and gives everyone a bit of incentive to empty the tank for someone like that on debut.

"Hopefully we gave him a special night… I thought he did a tremendous job.

"It's tough for a winger on any night, but to make your debut against a real classy outfit in the Sharks, and in those [wet] conditions, and not come up with an error, he did a great job."

A product of Jonah Lomu's old high school, Auckland's Wesley College, Pompey played rugby union up until being scouted by then Roosters recruitment guru Peter O'Sullivan at a rugby union tournament.

Pompey clocked up 40 games for the Roosters at U20 level and last year progressed into the now-named Canterbury Cup with Wyong, before O'Sullivan lured him back to Auckland for 2019.  

"'Sully' played a big role in getting me back here because I was close mates with his son (Brisbane Broncos player) Sean," Pompey said.

"I was just going back to play for Wyong this year, but I came home at the end of last season and was playing in a Maori tournament when I saw Sully and he said he wanted to offer me a contract here."

Diehard Warriors (& Roger) fans at Sharks game in Wellington
Diehard Warriors (& Roger) fans at Sharks game in Wellington ©Shane Wenzlick/NRL Photos

Pompey, 21, was included in the Warriors' extended reserves ahead of the Cronulla game and quickly realised he was a good chance of taking the field.

"At first I thought I was just there for the warm up or something, but unfortunately for Ken he got ruled out and an opportunity came up for me," Pompey told NRL.com.

"During the week I was thinking to myself 'Am I going to play?' because I knew Ken had a concussion.

"I said to myself 'I'm kinda ready to play' and then once I got that call it was amazing.

"I was pretty nervous, it was a rainy day, but Rodg [Roger Tuivasa-Sheck] helped me and let me know he had my back.

"I was happy not to drop a ball. It just felt really good to do it and to get a win."