13 November 2022

Gesture of thanks from Wests Tigers to New Zealand

Wests Tigers will take one of its ‘home games’ to Hamilton, New Zealand in 2023 as a gesture of thanks to the rugby league community across the Tasman.

Wests Tigers became the Warriors’ first opponent on home soil in almost three years in July, when the teams met at Mount Smart Stadium. Wests Tigers will now become the first Australian club to schedule one of next season’s home games in New Zealand.

Wests Tigers’ decision to ‘give a game back’ to New Zealand comes after the Warriors made significant sacrifices through the Covid-19 pandemic. The Warriors relocated indefinitely to Australia in 2020, denying New Zealand league fans a Warriors’ home game for 1039 days.

Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe believes the whole game owes a lot to the rugby league community in New Zealand.

“I think everyone connected to the game would agree that what the Warriors did was remarkable. We owe them gratitude, and then some,” said Pascoe. 

“It was selfless, it was generous, and it was for the good of the game. And what we are doing is also for the good of the game.

“We feel very privileged as a club to be able to give back to the whole New Zealand community, by being the first NRL club post Covid to take a home game to New Zealand.

“It’s a show of gratitude for the sacrifices made by many during the Covid pandemic.

It’s our way of saying ‘thank you’ to the rugby league community in New Zealand and giving something back.

Wests Tigers will play its Round 24 home game against New Zealand Warriors at FMG Stadium Waikato, on Saturday 12th August.

The fixture in Hamilton falls during the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, when many venues including Campbelltown Sports Stadium and Leichhardt Oval, are unavailable.

“We are doing this primarily to give back to New Zealand but it’s also an exciting opportunity for our members and fans as well,” Pascoe added.

“The plan is to offer a range of supporter packages that are both affordable and enticing.”

The NRL is fully supportive of Wests Tigers’ decision to take a home game to New Zealand. 

“The Warriors sacrificed so much to allow the NRL Telstra Premiership to continue throughout the global pandemic. No team in professional sport has ever had such a long period away from home,” said NRL General Manager – Partnerships, Jaymes Boland-Rudder.

“It is terrific that the Wests Tigers are taking a home match to Hamilton in 2023 to reward and thank the loyal rugby league fans in New Zealand.”

As expected, the initiative has been very well received in New Zealand.

Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate says she is thrilled to welcome Wests Tigers to the Waikato region.

“We have such a passionate league community here in the Waikato and I know local fans will put their support right behind this event,” said Mayor Southgate.

“New Zealand fans missed out on many opportunities to attend live NRL games during the pandemic, so it’s fantastic that the Wests Tigers are bringing this extra match to our city and making FMG Stadium Waikato, their home ground.”

New Zealand Warriors CEO Cameron George expects the game in Hamilton to attract a bumper crowd.

“We’re delighted Wests Tigers are bringing their home game against us to New Zealand,” he said.

I think it’s a terrific gesture and I’m sure all league fans in this country will get right behind the event.”

A range of supporter packages will be made available for this event in the coming months.