The Wests Tigers are in New Zealand to play a trial match against the Warriors tonight in Auckland but before kickoff there was a quick trip to Hamilton for a different challenge.
The Tigers spent time south of the Bombay Hills on a mission to win over some new hometown fans with Waikato Stadium set to be used later this year as their home venue for a clash against the Warriors.
Wests front rower David Klemmer told 1News even if it doesn’t work, their time at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Toku Mapihi Maurea school was well worth the trip.
“A few of [the kids] were into me but I'm trying to stay staunch and cross a few over the line,” Klemmer said with a grin.
“But if we win here, I reckon we might have a chance.”
The FIFA Women's World Cup will disrupt normal scheduling at their home stadium this season, providing the perfect opportunity to jump the ditch and repay the Warriors who club CEO Justin Pascoe said the NRL owes for the almost three years they were based in Australia due to Covid.
“The New Zealand community didn't get the opportunity to see league here for over 1000 days,” Pascoe said.
“I think the sacrifices the Warriors made to enable the league to carry on, we’re really humbled and respectful of that so when the opportunity arose to take a game here, we were quick to jump at it.”
Punters and commentators alike suggested the Warriors should have been able to play all of their matches at home this season after the sacrifices players, staff and their families made to keep the competition’s integrity in tact during travel restrictions but in the end the Wests Tigers have been the only club that played ball.
There are other perks to the August fixture for the Tigers though; for Kiwis player and former Warrior Ken Maumalo, raised in Māngere, it’s also an opportunity to play in front of whānau.
“Mum and dad, brothers, sisters, everyone is here,” Maumalo said.
“When we left it was just me, my partner and my son that went over so we left everything behind so I'll be asking a few of the boys for a few of their tickets.”
Maumalo joked he would be after “150 or something” tickets for the game.