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Momentous Anzac Day occasion in store

A capacity crowd at Go Media Stadium is set to host the largest contingent of New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel commemorating Anzac Day anywhere in the world.

The NZDF and One New Zealand Warriors have combined forces on an unprecedented scale for the Warriors’ 2024 Anzac Day encounter with the Gold Coast Titans on Thursday.

Rugby league fans will be treated to ceremonial pomp and pageantry, the sight of military hardware on the ground and in the air and an appearance from some canine personnel.

This is only the second time the One New Zealand Warriors have hosted the Anzac Day fixture, nine years on from the first occasion which marked the 100 year anniversary of the start of the Gallipoli campaign in 2015.

“It’s a special honour for us to host the Anzac Day game again,” said One New Zealand Warriors CEO Cameron George.

“From our viewpoint, it’s appropriate that the NRL should commemorate such an important day for our two nations on both sides of the Tasman.”

The association between Anzac Day and New Zealand and Australia’s major sporting codes runs deep, and in particular for the One New Zealand Warriors, who began marking Anzac Day with an annual fixture against the Storm in Melbourne in 2009.

“We’re extremely grateful to the New Zealand Defence Force for lending such valuable support to ensure we are able to mark the day in a dignified and respectful way,” Cameron George said.

From having the New Zealand Army Band leading proceedings on the field, to buglers and a guard of honour taking on ceremonial duties, more than 150 serving personnel will be front and centre on one of the country’s largest sporting stages in front of a sold out crowd.

A Royal New Zealand Air Force A109 helicopter will deliver the match ball in spectacular fashion, touching down on the halfway line before the match.

The Australian Defence Force will also be represented with a flagbearer on the field.

“The commemoration of Anzac Day is one of the most important national occasions on both sides of the Tasman,” said NZDF director of defence public affairs Lieutenant Colonel Tony Sumner.

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“While Anzac had its origins on the beaches and hills of the Gallipoli Peninsula over a century ago, this day continues to symbolise the very close bonds we have with our Australian friends.

“To be able to commemorate those who have served, fought and fallen on such a large sporting stage is a particular honour.”

Some of the NZDF’s frontline capabilities will be on display at Go Media Stadium, with Light Armoured Vehicles (LAVs) and the Army’s new armoured Bushmasters available for fans to look though and ask questions of the soldiers who operate them.

Supporters will also get the chance to see the NZDF’s military working dogs showcase their incredible skills during a halftime display.

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The One New Zealand Warriors will wear a special commemorative jersey to mark the occasion, made up of several key design elements honouring the servicemen and servicewomen who have fought for New Zealand and Australia. 

Fans are encouraged to turn up to Go Media Stadium early on Thursday for a special Anzac-themed curtain-raiser, when the NZDF’s women’s rugby league team takes on their New Zealand Police counterparts.

Across the Tasman, the NZDF men’s team will also warm up the crowd at Accor Stadium in Sydney, by taking on the Australian Defence Force’s rugby league team in a hotly contested fixture, before the annual Anzac Day clash between the Sydney Roosters and the St George Illawarra Dragons.

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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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