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Warriors take NRL game to Wellington

10:10 Sun Dec 9 2012
AAP
The Warriors will play a home match outside Auckland for the first time when they meet the Bulldogs in Wellington next year.
The Warriors will play a home match outside Auckland for the first time when they meet the Bulldogs in Wellington next year.

The Warriors will play a home NRL game away from Auckland for the first time in the club's history when they host Canterbury-Bankstown in Wellington in May.

Their previous appearances in New Zealand other than at either Mount Smart Stadium or Eden Park were officially away fixtures that other clubs had moved across the Tasman.

The clash with the Bulldogs, this year's premiership runners-up, will be a Saturday night affair at Westpac Stadium on May 11.

Chief executive Wayne Scurrah says it's fitting that the Warriors' first home match outside Auckland should be in the nation's capital.

"We know there's big interest in the Warriors and rugby league not only in and around Wellington, but in the surrounding regions like Taranaki, Manawatu, Horowhenua, Wanganui, Wairarapa and Hawke's Bay, as well as Nelson and Marlborough across the Cook Strait," he said.

The shift in venue will mean a homecoming for three Warriors players.

Prop Ben Matulino and hooker Alehana Mara were born in Wellington, while skipper captain Simon Mannering lived there and played for the Orcas.

Adding extra interest to the match is the number of New Zealanders in the Bulldogs squad - Kiwis Sam Perrett, Krisnan Inu, Sam Kasiano, Frank Pritchard and Greg Eastwood, ex-Kiwi Dene Halatau, and former Junior Kiwis Martin Taupau and Drury Low.

New Warriors coach Matthew Elliott has good memories of the capital and Westpac Stadium.

He was Canberra coach when the Raiders took their 2003 home fixture against the Warriors to Wellington and won 18-10.