Vodafone Warriors interim head coach Todd Payten says all players and staff are excited about returning to Tamworth as the ‘home’ side for the 16th-round NRL clash against the Newcastle Knights at Scully Park on Saturday (3.00pm kick-off local time, 5.00pm NZT).
The match, sold out almost two weeks ago, takes the Vodafone Warriors back to their first home in Australia where they quarantined for more than two weeks in May ahead of the 2020 season resuming following the Covid-19 enforced suspension.
The stay in Australia’s country music capital had a profound effect on the players and staff with Tamworth’s post code 2340 being embroidered on the club's playing jerseys as a way of thanking the community for its support.
“We’re all really excited about going back to Tamworth,” said interim Vodafone Warriors head coach Todd Payten.
“We're going to touch on that at tomorrow's team meeting. It's our chance to repay everyone back in Tamworth with a good performance.
“It's going to feel like a comfortable place for us because of the time we spent there.
“It'll bring back some decent memories. We were very well looked after there. The hospitality was great from everyone at the Mercure and at the leagues club.
“Hopefully we can see some familiar faces, put on a strong performance and do everyone proud, not just back home but in Tamworth, too."
Payten wishes the Vodafone Warriors could have more time in Tamworth rather than it being a hit and run mission.
“I'd much rather go there the night before, stay at the same hotel and get up fresh in the morning,” he said.
"The travel on the day is going to be a bit of a challenge. It's still a hit and run mission but once we get there we're going to feel comfortable in the surroundings."
In keeping with bio-security protocols for the competition, teams must travel to venues and return home on the same day.
In this case both the Vodafone Warriors and the Knights will both be on the move on Saturday, the Vodafone Warriors facing an early morning bus trip from their Terrigal base to Newcastle to catch a charter flight to Tamworth, play the match and return afterwards with an expected arrival time back in Terrigal about 10.00pm.