NZ Warriors could play in Pacific Islands

New Zealand Warriors could soon be playing NRL games on the Pacific Islands, after their current agreement with Mount Smart Stadium expires in 2018.

The move would be desiged to boost the profile of both the Warriors and the NRL in a key development region.

Games staged in Tonga, Samoa or Fiji could potentially draw large crowds, with rugby union’s Super Rugby competition recently staging a game in Suva, Fiji, which attracted 19,000 spectators.

The Warriors’ current deal with Mount Smart in Auckland, however, means that they can play only one away game a season outside of Mount Smart.

“As we’re the New Zealand Warriors, we want to have that game in New Zealand,” Warriors managing director Jim Doyle said, according to Stuff.co.nz.

“That’s why we’ve been to Wellington, New Plymouth and other places.”

Doyle believes that taking games to the Pacific could be a massive chance for the Warriors to expand their brand.

“That’s always a big opportunity for us,” he said.

“Because a large make up of our team are Tongans and Samoans, the more we could do there the better and the more fan base and supporters we could get.

“We do community stuff there now, we’ve been to Tonga a few times and ran programmes there. We recently had Tony Iro there, running some clinics.

“We’re working with Mt Smart on our future deal, which would allow us to take two games out of here and that opens up the door to do things like that.

“Also, we’re working a lot with clubs in Australia to bring games here, like Penrith in Christchurch, the Raiders to take a game to Wellington and if we can get more of that happening, that gives us the opportunity to look at those types of things.”

The NRL would need to sign off any games which were taken to the Pacific, and the league might also have to bear some of the costs of transport and logistics.

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