Since the start of the Covid 19 pandemic, sport around the country and world has been thrown into disarray. Almost every Sports league across the world had to pause or cancel its season…. Except the Belarus Football league, how good was that. But the rest of the worlds major and minor league saw a pause in competition at the very least. The Olympics was even postponed and moved back a year, that’s how serious Covid 19 affected sports.
During the 2020 NRL season, everything stopped for 8 weeks and 3 days. From the announcement of the suspension on the 23rd of March 2020, to its restart on the 28th of May 2020, the whole NRL competition was paused, throwing the league into a financial crisis.
To his credit, Peter V’landys was steadfast in his commitment to re-launch the season on the 28th of March, and the league had put in different stages of restrictions for players depending on the state and situation that teams home state was in. The NRL really was the poster boy for sport to resume in Australia, and it had the eyes of the world on it as to how sport could move forward. Yes, it may have meant playing behind closed doors without fans. But Sport was back on the TV, and that was good enough for the fans.
For some clubs it meant relocating to a different state, like the Melbourne Storm relocating to the Sunshine Coast of Queensland. But for my New Zealand Warriors it meant leaving there families behind in New Zealand and moving to the Central Coast of NSW via Tamworth for the NRL to truly get back under way. A sacrifice that has verbally been acknowledged by the NRL but as of yet no plans to financially acknowledge it, or their fans for going without a home game for what will end up being at least 2 years.
As a Warriors fan since 2014, it was great for me to have the Team doing a mini preseason training camp just down the road from my Hometown of Armidale, although as it was covid times, it wasn’t easy to get to watch them train. But some of us managed. But I did feel for all of Warrior Nation in New Zealand, knowing they wouldn’t be able to see them play at home that year. This blog is really just my ideas on how to Thank the Warriors and their fans for relocating to Australia under incredible circumstance so that the league can continue.
Everywhere you looked on social media, TV new and Newspapers, the people got behind the Warriors for making the move to relocate to Australia. Memberships went up, and the messages of support for the team were everywhere.
Everything seemed to be getting back to normal and it seemed like the Warriors and to a lesser extent the Storm would be able to play in front of their home fans again at the beginning of the 2021 season. Unfortunately, covid is a different beast and once again the Warriors had the tough decision of relocating again to the Central coast in order to play the 2021 NRL season. Yet another kick in the teeth for Warrior nation.
While it was inconvenient it was necessary to do to have the season kick off at a normal time, but this season would again throw in another curveball, after already relocating to NSW they then again had to relocate to the NRL hub in Queensland once NSW lost control of its current Covid 19 delta outbreak. The new relocation was made slightly better by the announcement that players immediate family (wives, girlfriends and children) were given the green light to join the hub after a 2-week quarantine.
Before the newest Covid outbreak in NSW the Warriors were planning their 1st actual home game in nearly 2 years to be played against the Bulldogs on August 15th, but that dream was shattered with the delta outbreak in NSW which spread briefly to Queensland which ended any chance of that homecoming game.
Now on to how the NRL can thank and reward the NZ Warriors for their huge sacrifice.
The most obvious way I think the NRL can thank and reward the Warriors for there Sacrifice is by asking all 15 other NRL clubs to relocate their home game against the Warriors in the 2022 and 2023 seasons to somewhere in NZ. Now I don’t mean both seasons all of the Warriors games will be played in NZ. I mean in 2022 half of the games are taken to NZ, and in 2023 the other half are taken there. It may not be in Auckland at Mt Smart stadium but somewhere in NZ so that Warriors Nation has more opportunities to go to a game and cheer on their team. This is also a good move for other clubs as it gives their NZ fans a second opportunity to see their team live, and maybe a little closer for those who might not live in Auckland.
Another way the NRL could possibly reward the Warriors could be through financial means. This could be through giving them extra money on top of the already agreed upon amount, or by giving them an increased salary cap number to try and recruit better players to the club. Not on a permanent basis but maybe over a 2- or 3-year period. This would be a long stretch and probably doesn’t really reward the fans, except if they were able to recruit good players it may improve the ability of the team on the field, leading to better performances for the fans to enjoy, and maybe, just maybe a potential finals appearance in that time.
The other option the NRL could go with and let’s face it, it’s the most likely way they’ll go, and that is to do nothing to thank the Warriors. They could simply just see it as a necessary sacrifice needed to be made to keep the game moving. This move is also strengthened by the whole league moving to the Queensland hub, and the time gap since the 2020 season growing longer and it leaving the minds of league fans.
I would hope the NRL sees fits to acknowledge what the Warriors have sacrificed over the last 2 seasons. I for one thank them. Without them playing, it wouldn’t have been interesting to me at all. So thank you NZ Warriors and Kia Ora Warrior Nation for sharing the Warriors with us in Australia.