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The Warriors' minute silence before their clash with Canterbury.

An emotional team meeting in response to the mass shootings in Christchurch, left the Warriors determined to give New Zealand a reason to smile when they opened their NRL season on Saturday.

Forty-nine people lost their lives, with dozens more wounded, in terror attacks at two mosques on Friday.

While several current Warriors have links to the city, the events hit particularly close to home for Christchurch-born Jazz Tevaga, who called a team meeting on the eve of their 40-6 Telstra Premiership victory over the Bulldogs.

"I was pretty emotional hearing the news yesterday. I have got a lot of family down there and obviously I was born down there, my heart was very heavy yesterday, it was this morning as well," Tevaga said.

"We went into camp last night around dinner time and all the boys had seen the footage and we could just feel the vibe and energy of the team was very heavy.

"We just wanted to pay our respects, so 'Fus' [David Fusitu'a] led us in a prayer and we just came together.

"We had a lot to play for - the whole of New Zealand was feeling it - we just wanted to try and get the win and instill some positivity back into New Zealand."

Match Highlights: Warriors v Bulldogs

As part of the club's response to the tragedies, the Warriors made all remaining tickets for Saturday's match free of charge five hours before kick-off, resulting in a crowd of 18,795.

While emphasising how small sport is in the context of the tragedy, coach Stephen Kearney said his side ran out onto Mount Smart Stadium knowing they had the chance to make a difference.

Kearney: It was an emotional day on many levels

"What we do as a job, we get an opportunity to go out and potentially have people clapping, smiling and cheering when we finish. That's 80 minutes of a bit of happiness in the day after a pretty horrific day or so," Kearney said.

"In the events of the last couple of days there hasn't been a great deal to smile about, so the lads were really keen to put in a performance that could make some people smile.

"The guys did really well to manage the emotion and focus on what was important." 

Meanwhile Kearney singled out his team's ability to build on a dominant first half, which saw them take a 22-0 lead into the sheds, along with their work in possession as the standout features of the club's biggest ever first-round win.

Every member of the Warriors' back-five ran over 100 metres, while forwards Bunty Afoa, Tohu Harris, Lachlan Burr and Leeson Ah Mau all reached that goal as well.

"They aren't real big boppers, but they do a really effective job," Kearney said of his pack.

"That's our strength, physicality, and we knew we had to bring that today, because early in the game I thought it was a real arm wrestle, a tough start to the game.

"Our two wingers are pretty good ball carriers… I thought Sol [Solomone Kata] was really strong today, and also Nate [Roache] probing out of dummy-half."

 

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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