Jazz Tevaga is bracing for a wave of emotion before his Christchurch homecoming this Saturday, as the Warriors prepare to play Manly in the shadow of the horrific terror attacks committed there earlier this month.
Born and raised for the first part of his life in Christchurch, 23-year-old Tevaga retains strong links to the city through his mother Melissa.
The round three NRL Telstra Premiership match will be the first major sports event to be held in the city following the mass shootings at two mosques, and Tevaga said he was expecting it to be a confronting experience.
"I am preparing for the worst [emotionally]. Some of us are going to go down to the mosque and to pay our respects, so it's going to be pretty emotional," Tevaga said.
"It will probably hit me when we get down there and among the people… what they have been through the last couple of weeks, I can't imagine.
"The boys just want to put some smiles on faces down there and give them something to cheer about.
"It's always very special [for me] going home to Christchurch and playing in front of my mum's family there."
Warriors preparing for an emotional week
A number of large-scale events scheduled to be held in the city over the past fortnight have been cancelled due to safety concerns and stretched police resources, but Tevaga said he had no concerns with the game going ahead.
"I think we are in good hands. I am sure the club and police will be working hard to make sure we are safe, and we have full trust in them that they will look after us," he said.
Coach Stephen Kearney said the players knew they had an important role to play this week, but that it was important they didn't let emotion have an impact on their preparation.
"We have got a commitment to the city of Christchurch and the community, and we intend to uphold that," Kearney said.
"It's much like round one to be honest, in terms of making sure we put in a performance that all of the Canterbury community can be proud of.
"We all recognise that all of us here have felt, seen and heard what followed the events of two weeks ago.
"We all feel it, we all know it, and our responsibility in terms of the footy team is to get our jobs done on Saturday afternoon at five o'clock, so that's where our focus is."
Meanwhile Kearney defended his decision to initially retain the same 17 players from last week's 34-6 defeat at the hands of the Wests Tigers and said he will wait to decide who replaces the suspended Sam Lisone on the interchange.
Lisone will sit out two matches after being found guilty at the NRL judiciary on Tuesday night for dangerous contact with the head and neck.
"They [the players] did a pretty good job the week before last and I don't think chopping and changing is going to help things," Kearney said.
"It didn't work out our way [at judiciary], but Blake Ayshford will come into the 21 and we are yet to make a decision on who moves onto the bench."