The Melbourne Cup in Australia is known as the race that stops the nation. In New Zealand, it’s the Warriors, the nation’s main rugby league team. In an extraordinary statement of the magnitude of the Warriors‘ influence in New Zealand, the club’s CEO, Cameron George, has triumphantly stated that the team’s qualifying final game against Penrith could lure in more viewers than the match opener for the All Blacks in the World Cup on Saturday.
George praised the enthusiasm towards the Warriors in New Zealand, likening it to Australia’s fervour surrounding the Melbourne Cup. According to George, the Warriors and Penrith semi-final at 6pm NZ time on Saturday stands to halt the nation.
On the same Saturday, the All Blacks will open their World Cup proceedings with a match against France. Despite this, George remains certain that the evening match between the Warriors and Penrith will attract a larger viewership.
In Auckland, the Warriors‘ popularity is an evident part of daily life and news. A recent notable manifestation of their massive fan base saw an entire train emblazoned with the team’s slogan “Up The Wahs,” with fans petitioning Auckland Transport to retain the graffiti rather than having it cleaned off.
Further demonstrating their enormous support, George revealed that the team has seen a colossal increase in merchandise sales, boasting a 200 per cent increase from last year. Team jerseys have been so popular that they have completely sold out, save for small and extra-small sizes.
With a critical match against Penrith, the Warriors have the opportunity to progress to the preliminary final at Mt Smart Stadium two weeks later. Regardless of the outcome, George is confident that NRL will maintain the current 6pm (NZ time) match time slot to maximise viewers.
In a historic first for the club, the Warriors are preparing to win their maiden premiership. They have decided to hire a private jet for the team’s transportation to Sydney in order to be on top of their game for the Penrith clash and have planned early return in order to facilitate recovery.
George mentioned the possibility of large numbers of Warriors fans planning to be present at BlueBet Stadium on Saturday, coupled with a high number of expat fans. The anticipation for the forthcoming game in New Zealand, regardless of its occurrence one week or two weeks later, is high. It’s set to be an enormous event.