Vodafone Warriors CEO Cameron George has today announced Wellington and Napier will host two of the club’s home games in the 2023 NRL season.
It follows confirmation the Vodafone Warriors’ return to their Auckland base after three long years in exile in Australia will see nine of their 12 home games being played at Mount Smart Stadium with the remaining match again committed to the NRL’s Magic Round in Brisbane.
The opponents and dates for the matches in Wellington and Napier won’t be known until the NRL releases the full season draw later this year.
The Vodafone Warriors will create history by playing their first NRL game at Napier’s McLean Park while the match at SKY Stadium will be their 10th in Wellington.
It will also be the first time the club has taken two home games to New Zealand venues outside Auckland in the same year.
“Next season is not only critical for us as a club but especially for rugby league throughout New Zealand,” said George.
Our role is vital in doing all we can to help reconnect supporters with the Vodafone Warriors and the game not just through our fan base in Auckland but in other parts of the countryCameron George Vodafone Warriors CEO
“Outside the four games at Mount Smart in recent weeks, fans have been denied the chance to watch live NRL games. They’ve really suffered.
“Our role is vital in doing all we can to help reconnect supporters with the Vodafone Warriors and the game not just through our fan base in Auckland but in other parts of the country.
“It’s a huge thrill for us going to Hawke’s Bay for the first time and it’s equally exciting to return to the Capital.
“The Napier game couldn’t be more exciting for our captain Tohu Harris, who was born and raised in Hawke’s Bay and has so many family connections there.”
SKY Stadium chief executive Shane Harmon is confident the Vodafone Warriors will attract a huge crowd for next year’s visit.
“Hosting a Vodafone Warriors game is one of the highlights of our sporting calendar and we eagerly await the return of the NRL after four long years,” he said.
WellingtonNZ GM events and experience Warrick Dent expects there’ll be a major influx of Vodafone Warriors fans from the wider region and further afield for the weekend.
“It’s fantastic to be able to welcome Vodafone Warriors fans again,” he said.
“They always travel in strong numbers to support their team in Wellington.”
McLean Park will become the 10th stadium in New Zealand to stage an NRL match involving the Vodafone Warriors.
“This is a huge win for Napier and we are excited to host a Vodafone Warriors game for the first time at McLean Park,” said acting Napier City Council chief executive Debra Stewart.
“There will be many local league fans who will be thrilled with the opportunity to see their beloved Warriors play in Napier.”
The last time the Vodafone Warriors played a home game away from Mount Smart Stadium was their 19-18 win over Cronulla Sutherland in Wellington in July 2019, a night when current squad member Adam Pompey made his NRL debut.
The last four visits to Wellington have netted three wins, the others a 24-20 away victory over Canterbury Bankstown in 2016 and a 42-18 home triumph against the Wests Tigers in 2014.
The Napier game will be the second NRL match played at McLean Park. In the first in 2015, the home side Melbourne – with Harris in the centres – beat St George Illawarra 22-4.