As the Warriors prepare to return home, winger Ken Maumalo has backed calls for their annual Anzac Day clash with Melbourne to be played in Auckland.
Sunday's Warriors- Storm match will be the 11th time the two sides have met on April 25 and on each occasion the game has been played in Melbourne.
"That would be good," Maumalo said of hosting the Storm on April 25. "It would be awesome to take one back home and play in front of our fans and our people."
Warriors CEO Cameron George has previously requested the club be given an opportunity to host an Anzac Day match and it is believed that there would be support within the NRL for that to occur once the team is able to return to New Zealand.
However, the Storm would need to agree to move what is usually their biggest drawing match of the season as the two clubs have an arrangement in place to play in Melbourne on April 25.
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With capacity at sporting venues in Victoria lifted from 75 per cent to 85 per cent, the Storm are hoping for a crowd of 25,000 on Sunday night at AAMI Park.
Another factor may be the two-hour time difference between New Zealand and Australia’s east coast as the Storm-Warriors match is usually played in the evening after the Dragons-Roosters clash, which kicks off at 4pm.
If the match was played at 4pm in New Zealand, it could be broadcast into NSW, Queensland and Victoria from 2pm otherwise kick-off would need to be 8.15pm to follow the Dragons-Roosters match.
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Wests Tigers are hosting Manly at 2pm on Sunday but the NRL usually only schedules a third Anzac Day match – in addition to the Dragons-Roosters and Storm-Warriors games – if April 25 falls on a weekend.
The Anzac round wasn’t played last year as the NRL was shut down until May 28 due to COVID-19 and the Warriors couldn’t host this year’s Anzac Day game as the team isn’t due to relocate from the Central Coast to Auckland until June 19.
Warriors players are likely to be given the opportunity to return home for a brief break after their May 28 trip to North Queensland as the club has a bye the following weekend.
After the trans-Tasman travel bubble opened on Monday, several members of the Warriors staff briefly returned home to visit family. Support for the team will soon be bolstered by the arrival of some parents and siblings of players.
"We have got a couple of byes coming up so hopefully at some stage it is going to be okay with the NRL for the players who want to go home to see parents and grandparents to get that opportunity," Warriors coach Nathan Brown said.
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Brown and a group of Warriors players visited Davistown RSL on Friday to lay a wreath and present a jersey as part of an Anzac ceremony.
Brown’s father served in Vietnam with the Australian military, while Warrior's lock Jazz Tevaga’s father is in the New Zealand army, as was the father of halfback Kodi Nikorima. Forward Jamayne Taunoa-Brown has a great uncle who also served in Vietnam.
"Most of us have had someone in the family or close friends who have been touched by the war – my father’s a Vietnam vet – so we all know what war means and the way it’s shaped a lot of people and families’ lives as well," Brown said.
"It wasn’t something we talked about as kids but as my dad’s got older we have spoken about it a little bit ... but probably more about the friendships he built over there. A couple of his best mates from the war are still his best mates today.
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"We certainly don’t go into the details because it wasn’t a nice place, I don’t think, for anyone."
Tevaga said the Anzac Day game held special significance for him and his family.
"It touches me because of my connection to the services through my father and a couple of my family members,” Tevaga said.
"I’m proud of my dad and I look up to him. I know this is a special week for him and his boys. I want to try and put one on for them.
"When we get out there they put on a big ceremony, there’s a lot of adrenaline pumping through you and you just want to go out there and play for those loved ones."
Be part of the NRL action on Anzac Day as the game does its bit to honour Australia and New Zealand’s military forces. Tickets at NRL.com/Tickets