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Warriors to honour Pongia during Indigenous Round

The Warriors will proudly carry the memory of Quentin Pongia into Saturday night's match against the Broncos, with his club number 52 to feature on the players' Indigenous Round jerseys.

News of Pongia's passing last Saturday following a long battle with cancer was felt across the Telstra Premiership and hit particularly hard at the Warriors, with a number of the club's staff having played alongside him.

Pongia made 18 appearances for the Warriors in 1998 and left an enduring legacy.

"It was tough receiving the news," Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck said.

"Our coaching staff were real close to 'Q' and played with him, and a lot of us boys looked up to him and the type of player he was.

"I wasn't watching league back then, but I have heard great things about 'Q' and coming into the system everyone had high respect for him."

Warriors trainer Ruben Wiki was especially close to Pongia, with the pair having joined the Canberra Raiders at the same time in 1993 before going on to form a fearsome combination in the forwards for the Kiwis between 1995-2000.

Warriors coach Stephen Kearney said Wiki paid an emotional tribute to Pongia this week, sharing memories with players and staff.

Warriors serving Mangere East community at Life Soup Kitchen

"Rubes won a premiership with [Quentin] in Canberra, and Quentin took Rubes under his wing when they both first went to Canberra," Kearney said.

"Rubes spoke wonderfully well about it. He said what Quentin taught him is that you train how you play, and if you were on the end of a tackle shield and Quentin was tackling you, you soon moved out of the way.

"[Quentin] put the team first, whatever he could do to get the job done for the team and the jumper, whether that was a Raiders jumper, Warriors, and in particular the Kiwi jumper, he did it with all of his might."

Warriors v Broncos - Round 11

The Warriors will also mark Indigenous Round from a Maori perspective on Saturday, with foundation captain Dean Bell set to lead them onto the field and present the Broncos with a gift pre-match.

The club has also temporarily changed the name of their home stadium to Rarotonga Mount Smart Stadium, recognising the original name of the area before European settlers arrived. 

Kearney said it was pleasing to see Maori culture incorporated into the round.  

"To be officially recognised is wonderful … I think the whole process has been a learning [opportunity] for the group," Kearney said.

"The NRL have done a wonderful job of recognising Indigenous Australia and now New Zealand.

"[Between] Australian Indigenous, New Zealand Indigenous and the Pacific Islands, I think we play a pretty significant part in the NRL competition in terms of the numbers that we have."

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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