A Time to Celebrate

Twenty years is a long time. If you’ve maintained this relationship since Dean Bell led the Auckland Warriors out of the tunnel, flanked by flames, onto Ericsson, you should be very proud. The internet tells me (strangely enough that doesn’t necessarily make it true) that the average marriage only lasts seven years. But the good thing is, if you’ve made it this far, it seems unlikely it will ever end. And what a wonderful thought that is.

So Sunday will be a time to reminisce, a time to think about how it all started, where we came from and where we are now.

We’ll remember the Originals, name our best-ever Warriors side and re-live the good times we’ve had.

No doubt we’ll look back, at times with some regret, and wonder what might have been.

But most of all, Sunday should be a time to celebrate our future together, to celebrate how, for 26 (or hopefully 30) weeks a year, no matter what else happens in our lives, we can join together for 80 minutes to create something special, something memorable, something that we delight in with strangers and loved ones alike.

20 Years Strong — and many more to come.

I suppose we’d better touch on the actual game, the two points up for grabs. And that could be the most difficult thing for the men from Mt Smart — the occasion. Even though the game has become somewhat of an entrée to the Cricket World Cup final, barely generating a mention from the NZ sporting media this week, I suspect this will be one of the bigger crowds of the year at Our Rightful Home. How the players manage the peripheral events of the day could play a big part in determining how they handle the Broncos.

Matt Allwood comes in to replace Sam Tomkins, with Tui Lolohea shifting back to fullback. The right-edge defence was a shambles when Tomkins was forced from the field last week, so one can only hope that, with a week’s training together, Allwood and Jonathan Wright will build a wall strong enough to stop any traffic Brisbane directs their way.

Like the men from Mt Smart, Brisbane brings over a side filled with a nice balance of youth and experience. The old campaigners such as Corey Parker, Adam Blair and Sam Thaiday will look to set a platform for the likes of Jordan Kahu, Anthony Milford and Ben Hunt to exploit. Kodi Nikorima is another young talent to watch once he makes his entry from the interchange bench.

Hunt is the real danger man for mine. His game has gone from strength-to-strength in the last few seasons and he’s really improved his decision-making. If the Warriors don’t keep a close eye on him, Hunt will be through the smallest of gaps and they’ll be standing under the posts wondering what just happened.

NRL Warrior Prediction: Warriors by 4. Brisbane comes back after a strong start by a pumped-up Warriors side, but the men from Mt Smart are willed to victory by the vocal home crowd.

What to watch for: Shaun Johnson magic. He wants to be known as a man who steps up to the big occasion, and this weekend’s game is definitely the biggest of the season to date.

Highlights from the last meeting:

Damn you Dale Copley

Final thought: Go the BlackCaps!



1 Tuimoala Lolohea
2 Jonathan Wright
3 Matt Allwood
4 Solomone Kata
5 Manu Vatuvei
6 Chad Townsend
7 Shaun Johnson
8 Jacob Lillyman
9 Thomas Leuluai
10 Ben Matulino
11 Bodene Thompson
12 Ryan Hoffman
13 Simon Mannering (c)
14 Nathan Friend
15 Ben Henry
16 Sam Lisone
17 Albert Vete
18 Dominique Peyroux


1 Jordan Kahu
2 Corey Oates
3 Jack Reed
4 Justin Hodges (c)
5 Lachlan Maranta
6 Anthony Milford
7 Ben Hunt
8 Josh McGuire
9 Andrew McCullough
10 Adam Blair
11 Alex Glenn
12 Matt Gillett
13 Corey Parker
14 Jarrod Wallace
15 Jo Ofahengaue
16 Sam Thaiday
17 Kodi Nikorima
18 Todd Lowrie

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