Tickets go on sale today for the One New Zealand Warriors’ long-awaited return to the South Island when they face Melbourne in their final 2023 NRL Preseason Challenge trial at Christchurch’s Orangetheory Stadium on Sunday, February 19 (2.50pm kick-off).
After being forced to base themselves in Australia for three years, the newly renamed One New Zealand Warriors are celebrating their permanent homecoming by taking games to the regions.
Last month they announced they would play regular season home matches in Wellington (Newcastle Knights) and Napier (Brisbane Broncos) and have also confirmed the club’s trip to Christchurch to face the NRL’s benchmark side of the 2000s.
Tickets for the match against Melbourne will be available through www.ticketek.co.nz on a members-only presale from 10.00am today (Tuesday, December 6) before being released to the general public at 10.00am on Thursday (December 8).
“Next year is a celebration for the fans and for us as a club being back home at last,” said One New Zealand Warriors CEO Cameron George.
“We want as many supporters as possible to be able to see the team live so we were really keen to lock in this game against the Storm in Christchurch.
We want as many supporters as possible to be able to see the team live so we were really keen to lock in this game against the Storm in ChristchurchCameron George One New Zealand Warriors CEO
“We’re playing a side that has been the best in the business over a long period of time in what will be a critical match for both teams.”
Through support from ChristchurchNZ, this will be the One New Zealand Warriors’ first match in the South Island in four years.
“We are delighted to welcome the One New Zealand Warriors back to Orangetheory Stadium for the first time since 2019,” said Venues Ōtautahi CEO Caroline Harvie-Teare.
“There is a passionate rugby league fan base across the South Island and with this game against a quality Melbourne Storm outfit predicted to be a great contest, I am sure we will be welcoming a strong and enthusiastic crowd in February 2023.”
The contest will be the last hit-out for both sides before opening their 2023 campaigns in the first week of March.
“We are thrilled with this opportunity to showcase the game of rugby league to Canterbury and the wider community,” said Canterbury Rugby League CEO Malcolm Humm.
“The Melbourne Storm have been the pinnacle club of the NRL for many years and have a strong Kiwi connection so to get such a quality team to play the Warriors in front of a Canterbury crowd is exciting. This will be a ‘must see’ game.”
First-year One New Zealand Warriors head coach Andrew Webster will field his strongest available side from a squad which includes a host of new signings in the shape of Kiwis’ World Cup players Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and Marata Niukore plus Dylan Walker, Mitchell Barnett, Te Maire Martin, Luke Metcalf, Brayden Wiliame and Jackson Ford. Other players on the roster include Tohu Harris, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Shaun Johnson, Jazz Tevaga, Bunty Afoa, Addin Fonua-Blake, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Bayley Sironen, Wayde Egan, Marcelo Montoya and Josh Curran.
Melbourne head coach Craig Bellamy will be aiming to use his best line-up from a squad including World Cup-winning Kangaroos Cameron Munster and Harry Grant along with Kiwis stars Jahrome Hughes and Nelson Asofa-Solomona plus Justin Olam, Ryan Papenhuyzen, Reimis Smith and Xavier Coates as well as former Warriors Eliesa Katoa and Aaron Pene and 2020 loan player George Jennings.