John Boriston

Auckland Warriors - a success for the NRL.

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As the UK looks towards expansion with more teams in Superleague from countries outside of the UK, what is the opinion in Australia and New Zealand on the success or otherwise of the Auckland Warriors in the NRL?    Has their inclusion made the NRL stronger or has it made RL in New Zealand stronger, or both?


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The real winners have been NZ players, rather than the Warriors club or RL in NZ. Overall player numbers in NZ seem to be more influenced by the Kiwis national team's performance and the NRL could easily replace the Warriors with a second Brisbane team and barely skip a beat.

The NZ players, though, have gained an obvious graduated pathway to full-time pro-RL. OZ-based scouts have more contacts now in the NZ junior systems and any players who don't make the cut in the Warriors junior systems have options like NSW and Qld Cup teams to demonstrate their abilities. Also the players who played RU through high school but didn't get picked up by Super RU franchises now have portfolios they can hawk around NRL clubs.

Juniors also have the option of trying out for High School scholarships with OZ-based NRL clubs, particularly those with small junior bases, like Melbourne, Roosters and Manly.

Ideally, for NZ RL, the Warriors would win a GF every 7-8 years, especially with some of the rosters they have fielded over the years, and the Kiwis should win every second WC if they want to see sustained growth across NZ.

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I suppose you could say they are a reasonable success in that they have retained a place in the NRL that is rarely questioned. They are a focus for RL at the highest competitive club level in the world so kiwis see a route to playing and supporting the game at a high level.

FD points out they could be readily replaced by another  Aussie club. There are certainly other clubs from within Oz that could contribute to the development of the game there.

It would be sad if they did leave the NRL as they are a tangible example of the Australians supporting the development of the game beyond their shores.


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There are a few points of interest both for and against the Warriors.

The Warriors are (I was certain of this a couple of years ago and pretty sure still the case) the biggest sports club in NZ.

The introduction of the Warriors has decimated the NZRL and RL on a domestic level, to which the NRL have made little attempt to remedy.

In my opinion the NZRL needs to be focusing on a national semi pro league to match the Super Cup’s in Qld and NSW. It is imperative the NRL assists the funding of this. This will help with income streams for NZRL, increase profile outside of Auckland and offer a pathway to performance RL for juniors at a younger age.

When the S Melbourne Swans moved to Sydney, within 5 years the local SFL was decimated. What had gone from a Sydney club sport with a few thousand supporters at every game, Sydney newspaper and television reports and finals with 15-25k supporters at enclosed paid entry grounds, turned into a grassroots with very crowds in the hundreds. The dynamic changed. The pyramid had immediately been rebuilt with the Swans taking all the eyeballs and media coverage. It wasn’t until the AFL became the National Governing Body, that the SFL then came under the direction of NSWAFL and the strategy turned to grassroots development. The sport has rapidly increased in the city and even has pockets where the sport dominates.

The NRL need to tread a similar path with NZL. The NRL is now responsible for the development of the sport in NZ. The sooner the NZRL and NRL realise it, then the sooner RL will see its full potential in NZ.

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