Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy has floated a radical proposal to repay the New Zealand Warriors, suggesting the game should do everything in its power to hand them a leg up in 2023.

The Warriors, who finally have been able to play a handful of home games in Auckland during the second half of this season, will return to the city permanently in 2023.

They have been based in Australia since virtually the beginning of the 2020 season when the coronavirus pandemic first hit.

The club were first relocated to Gosford, and then moved onto Redcliffe where they have been ever since after the competition moved into a bubble in Queensland's south east corner during the second half of the 2021 season owing to a lockdown in New South Wales and Victoria, to go with the closing of state borders.

Bellamy, while potentially tongue in cheek, suggested the competition should even consider giving the Warriors a competition points headstart next season.

“We could give them four or six competition points to start with, because they probably deserve it with being away for three years,” Bellamy said.

“I think there were some players who hadn’t set foot in New Zealand, except for the game against Wests, for a long time.

“What they’ve done for the game has been unbelievable, to go to Australia and live in Redcliffe, some with their families, some without, they’ve done a great job.

“They’ve basically kept the competition alive and have made a lot of sacrifices, a lot more than any other team in the competition, so we should all tip our hats to the Warriors, congratulate them and be really grateful for what they’ve done for our game.”

It's well known that the Warriors are likely to play extra games in New Zealand next year, with Australian-based clubs likely to give up a home game to play in other areas of New Zealand, which has also been starved of top level rugby league content.

Normally, the Warriors would have games in other parts of the country, whether their own home games, or Australian teams hitting the road.

Bellamy also refused to rule out the Anzac Day game being played in Auckland next year.

“That’s out of my hands, but anything we can do to show our gratitude, show our support for what the Warriors, we’d certainly consider that I’d imagine,” he said.

“But it’s people higher up the ladder that makes those sorts of decisions on where we play our games or if we move games.

“I’m not quite sure how you reward them or show how grateful the game is, but they certainly deserve some sort of recognition for what they’ve done.”

1 COMMENT

  1. Am I the only one who thinks this is just to persuade the Warriors to let him borrow Reece Walsh for the rest of the system?

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