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First-round Friday night rarity to kick off 2023

Next week’s 2023 season-opener will wind the clock back to the One New Zealand Warriors' early years.

It’s nothing to do with the venue, the opposition or the date but the day of the week of the encounter, for it’s 25 years since the club was accorded Friday night status to kick off a season.

That was on Friday, March 13, 1998 when the Warriors lost 18-24 to South Sydney at Ericsson Stadium two years after the club’s only other Friday night first-round outing, the ever-memorable debut against Brisbane on March 10, 1995.

After a succession of Saturday or Sunday starts (with the odd Monday and even a Tuesday thrown in), the One New Zealand Warriors prepare to open their first full season back home since 2019 against the Newcastle Knights at Wellington’s Sky Sport Stadium next Friday night (March 3).

It will be the 11th time the Warriors have played an NRL match in  the Capital and the fifth time they’ve taken a home game to Wellington.

The last was in 2019 when a late Blake Green field goal eked out a 19-18 win over a Cronulla-Sutherland side which included now-returned Warriors fan favourite Shaun Johnson. Making his NRL debut for the Warriors that night was Adam Pompey while current teammates Jazz Tevaga and Bunty Afoa were also in the line-up.

The biggest crowd for a match in the Capital was a 30,112 near sell-out for their first ‘home’ game in the city in 2013. Sporting a replica 1970s Wellington representative kit, they lost to the Bulldogs 16-24.

The One New Zealand Warriors have won three of their last four matches in Wellington.


2001 Away Bulldogs Drew 24-24
2002 Away Bulldogs Lost 20-28
2003 Away Bulldogs Lost 12-18
2004 Away Raiders Lost 10-18
2004 Away Bulldogs Lost 18-24
2013 Home Bulldogs Lost 16-24
2014 Home Wests Tigers Won 42-18
2015 Home Dragons Lost 0-36
2016 Away Bulldogs Won 24-20
2019 Hone  Sharks Won 19-18
Acknowledgement of Country

The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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