'Everyone wants to be supporting a winning team' - Warriors CEO urges fans to keep the faith in 2018

Warriors CEO Cameron George is urging the struggling side's fans to keep the faith, as the club continue their preparations for the 2018 NRL season.

Following a disastrous year, that saw the Warriors slump to an embarrassing club record nine straight defeats to end the season, the club's membership numbers have dropped by around 4,000 from this time 12 months ago.

Speaking to the Sunday Star Times, George urged fans to get behind the team, saying that things will improve after the lows of 2017.

"From my perspective and the organisation's perspective, we're working very hard off the field to make our experience on game day attractive," he said.

"For those that are still scratching their heads on whether or not they should support the team, the message I've got for them is very clear, that the boys on the field are going to represent them with passion and commitment.

"It's up to us to get them back to the stadium, we know that and we've prepared for that and we're going to go out and represent our fans and hopefully that grows our membership base through the season."

George also says that the organisation understand that only one thing will see fans return to Mt Smart Stadium for the new season: results on the pitch.

"Everyone wants to be supporting a winning team," George said.

"Our players know that and they take it very seriously.

"At the end of day we all have to win across the organisation to make it really attractive for people to become our members."

The Warriors begin their 2018 NRL campaign against the South Sydney Rabbitohs in Perth on March 10.

The Kiwis' skipper won’t take the reins at his new club.
Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck Source: Photosport


Opinion: Sorry, Warriors - let Etene Nanai-Seturo play rugby

Put some serious wedge down on Etene Nanai-Seturo remaining with New Zealand Rugby and not wearing a Warriors jersey in 2018.

The NRL club is crying foul, calling New Zealand Rugby disrespectful for driving over the top of what they claim is a bonafide contract they have with the schoolboys star, now showing his wares with the All Blacks Sevens.

Let's get things clear.

Nanai-Seturo, who went by the surname Nanai when he was carving up on the First XV fields for St Kentigern College, is said to have signed a deal with the Warriors when he was 15.

Setting aside the viewpoint that no 15-year-old should be signing a deal with anyone, the fact is that any contract signed by a minor is virtually unenforceable in a New Zealand court of law. Nanai-Seturo has clearly changed his mind about wanting to forge a career in league – and my sources tell me this was the case as far back as 2016 – and decided to throw his lot in with rugby.

Back in 2015, he was making an impression at fullback for St Kentigern. He was just about the best player on Eden Park when the First XV won the coveted 1A title in hard-earned fashion against Auckland Grammar in the final.

By the start of 2017, admittedly off the back of an off-season training with the Warriors, he looked dangerously sharp, often at centre for St Kentigern. The YouTube clips showed as much, going viral.

Nanai-Seturo made his debut for the All Blacks Sevens last weekend in Sydney, despite the tug-of-war. Source: 1 NEWS

The Chiefs were interested, as were the All Blacks Sevens. Nanai-Seturo had to declare his commitment to New Zealand Rugby, and he was duly selected in the 2017 NZ Schools squad, not long after turning 18 when, legally, he became an adult.

Nanai-Seturo appeared for Counties Manukau in last month's national provincial sevens event, and showed his raw potential for New Zealand in Sydney and Hamilton. Watch for him later in the year to feature for the Steelers in the Mitre 10 Cup and perhaps the Chiefs in Super Rugby 2019.

So there is no tug-of-war. The bloke wants to play rugby, not league, and no one is going to force him to play a sport he has forsaken. The Warriors may argue they have invested some time and money in him, but teenagers, in all walks of life, change their mind.

This is no different. Hard luck.

Contrast that with Isaiah Papali’i, who was in sterling form for the 2016 MAGS First XV and won the national Top 4 player of the year. But his name was missing from the NZ Schools squad of that year.

Why? He had declared for league, having already been in the Junior Warriors programme. Last year he cracked first grade.

In 1995, if you recall, Ruben Wiki had signed two contracts, one for the Warriors and one for the Canberra Raiders, spawning the nickname 'Two-City Wiki.'

The Warriors lost that one, and they will lose Nanai-Seturo too.

That is rugby's gain, and it's a good one.

Campbell Burnes is one of the most experienced active rugby writers in the country, having covered the game since 2000. As a player, he represented Manu Samoa, NZ Universities and Thames Valley. His journalistic career has seen him write for Rugby News, the Herald, the Western Leader and myriad publications both in print and online.

Etene Nanai-Seturo breaks a tackle during the HSBC Sydney Rugby Sevens Quarter Final between New Zealand  and Australia at Allianz Stadium, Sydney,  Sunday 28th January 2018. Copyright Photo: David Neilson / www.photosport.nz
Etene Nanai-Seturo playing for New Zealand sevens Source: Photosport


Benji Marshall, Johnathan Thurston possible headline players for Maori v Indigenous Australia clash

A proposed rugby league Test played between the New Zealand Maori and an Australian Indigenous side is reportedly on the cards for this year's representative weekend.

The Sydney Morning Herald report First Nations Goannas coach Laurie Daley and NZ Maori mentor Mark Horo came up with the idea for the two sides to clash later this year as part of the Festival of Indigenous Rugby League.

As part of the reported proposal, all State of Origin players who are not playing in Game II on Sunday 24 June will be available for selection by the Indigenous Australian side while Kiwi players not picked for the Kiwis' Test against England two days earlier will be available for the Maori.

That could see players such as Johnathan Thurston, Ash Taylor and Bevan Finch selected for the Australian outfit while the Maori side could have the likes of Benji Marshall, Kenny Bromwich and James Fisher-Harris at their disposal.

Daley told Stuff it would be terrific to add the encounter to the representative weekend.

"If they don't get picked for the test matches and the Origin side, there's an opportunity to get the rest of the best and play a game against each other.

"It would mean something. The [Indigenous] All Stars play the International All Stars at the start of the year but for the International All Stars, it doesn't mean a great deal. You play the Maori it would mean something. With our boys, there would be a rivalry."

Wests Tigers Benji Marshall.
Wests Tigers Benji Marshall. Source: Photosport