The Warriors have been so inundated by fans wanting to support the club after their decision to continue playing in the NRL that they have launched a special non-ticketed Australian membership and are set to bolster their playing ranks in coming days too.
More than 100 fans signed up to the new All-Aus All-In membership within an hour of it being released in response to calls from people who had decided the Warriors were now their second team after players and coaching staff vowed to remain in Australia while COVID-19 restrictions are in place.
“We have had that many asking how they could support the club so we created a $19.95 membership for supporters in Australia,” Warriors CEO Cameron George said.
“We have already had 100 people sign up and a stack of people saying they want to buy a membership to support us.”
Among those to sign up were NRL.com columnist and former NSW Origin five-eighth Jamie Soward, who said: “This is bigger than the game but without the Warriors the game doesn’t continue.”
The Warriors players decided after last weekend’s match against Newcastle to stay and play their home game against Canberra at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast, and then voted again on Thursday night to remain in Australia indefinitely.
However, to be competitive the club needs some more players after Peta Hiku and Patrick Herbert flew home to Auckland last Sunday and must spend two weeks in self-isolation if they return to Australia before being cleared to play.
George: We aren't walking away from challenge ahead
The Warriors already have four players – Gerard Beale, Jazz Tevaga, Josh Curran and Agnatius Paasi - in self-isolation after flying to Australia earlier this week but they are unable to play until at least round four and recruitment manager Peter O’Sullivan is trying to finding reinforcements for the squad playing the Raiders on Saturday.
George said coach Stephen Kearney and his staff would reassess after their position after the match and the Warriors could sign their first loan player from a rival club as early as next week.
“Peter O’Sullivan has been talking to clubs and managers and so forth and once we get through this weekend we will work out exactly what we want - if we want anyone - and who is available under those circumstances,” George said.
“It will be measured on a case-by-case basis by the NRL.
“A few people are a little bit hesitant about the loan concept but there are some clubs who have just been so willing and able to help.”
It is unclear if the Raiders are one of those clubs but George had a friendly jibe at former Warriors coach Andrew McFadden, who is an assistant to Ricky Stuart at Canberra – their opponents on Saturday.
“I would have thought our mates Andrew McFadden and Ricky Stuart would have rung and offered us a few players. They are already flying a team up so they could have put a few extras on board but that is Cappy these days, he doesn’t want to help out his old mates who made him.”
Warriors prepping as well as they can
The Raiders will fly to the Gold Coast on a charter plane to reduce the risk of players contracting COVID-19 and it is likely the Warriors will travel the same way to Sydney next Saturday for their match against Manly, and then return afterwards.
At this stage, the Warriors are planning to continue using Kingscliff as a base for the team and they could make Cbus Super Stadium their home ground until given the green light to return to New Zealand.
Soward said he already had a soft spot for the Warriors after the way the club responded to his fundraising appeal for the family of Wagga Wagga volunteer firefighter Samuel McPaul, who died when a fire tornado overturned his 10-tonne truck at Jingellic, near Albury, in December.
“A couple of months ago I rung around the 26 clubs and got a jersey donation for a young man who lost his life fighting the fires and the Warriors went to all the ends of the earth to get me a couple of signed jumpers,” Soward said.
“That typified the NRL community coming together and with the recent situation over the last couple of weeks, and not knowing where they are at it, is a huge sacrifice that the Warriors have made.”