New Zealand Warriors
I wish I was Australian
In New Zealand, there is a perception that rugby league is a game played by thugs and criminals. Although Australia might have been founded by Convicts, New Zealand has far more of them today, which perhaps explains the popularity of rugby league. When the Auckland Warriors were launched in 1994, it seems they wanted to escape rugby league's criminal associations and felt that the best way to do it would be to recruit Australians and a few players from the NZ rugby union.
On the marketing front, a team composed of fine Australians and well-bred union players seemed to strike a chord with the Kiwi public. On the club's opening night at Ericsson Stadium, almost 30,000 filled the ground, while one in every three New Zealanders watched the match on TV. But after such optimistic beginnings, the imported players failed to deliver. The club was almost extinct until saved by multimillionaire Eric Watson in 2000.
Watson started recruiting players from the ranks of the New Zealand Rugby League. Perhaps the local focus was understandable considering that Watson was a bit of a troublemaker himself. Aside from being wealthy, he was famous for his brawls and beautiful girlfriends. With a strong rugby league foundation in place, and a mischief maker at the helm, the Warriors started to fulfil their potential.
Unfortunately, the club seemed to have trouble discerning the line between the bending of the rules in a way that is worthy of admiration, and breaking the rules in a way that brings condemnation and retribution. In the tradition of the Canterbury Bulldogs and Melbourne Storm, the Warriors decided to be salary cap cheats. Despite secretly paying its players more than other clubs, the Warriors still couldn't buy any success. All the cheating did was result in the Warriors being stripped of competition points that it couldn't get anyway.
Aside from strong support in New Zealand, the club also has strong support from expatiate Kiwis in Australia who, despite loving their country and defending its reputation to the death, prefer to live in Australia. The sheer number of Australian New Zealanders was apparent for the club's first final against the Cronulla Sharks. Believing Kiwis in Australia to be tight arses, the Warriors' sponsor purchased 15,000 tickets and gave them away to anyone with a Kiwi passport. Many Sydney Kiwis, desperate for anything that was free, took the tickets and ensured that there were arguably more Kiws at the game than Australians.
Roy Morgan research
2004 - NZ Warriors supporters (in Australia) are:
2006 - When compared to other NRL supporters
|Was this more interesting than a news update of players in a recovery session standing around in the ocean looking cold or of a team 'training without incident'?|