After so long without regular first-grade football, the people of New Zealand are set to be rewarded by the Warriors, with CEO Cameron George announcing the team will be playing some of next year’s home games away from the familiar surrounds of Mount Smart Stadium.

The Warriors have been in exile for three years thanks to the ongoing pandemic situation but have been a host of home games next year – despite the fact they have to give one up for the sake of Magic Round.

Wellington and Napier will be the lucky cities to host NRL games next year – although the opponents and dates won’t be known until the NRL releases the full season draw later this year.

The game at Wellington’s SKY Stadium, affectionately known as ‘The Cake Tin’, will be the club’s 11th trip to the ground. Though they were unable to secure a win in their first six trips to the venue, they’ve won three of the last four games there, including a 19-18 win over Cronulla in 2019.

It will also be the club’s first game at Napier’s McLean Park – and the first time the club will play twice outside of Auckland in the same season. The Dragons and Storm met at the venue back in 2015.

“Next season is not only critical for us as a club for but for rugby league throughout New Zealand,” said club CEO Cameron George.

“Outside the games at Mount Smart in recent weeks, fans have been denied the chance to watch NRL games. They’ve really suffered.

“Our role is vital in doing all we can to help reconnect supporters with the Warriors and the game, not just through our fanbase in Auckland but in other parts of the country.

“It’s a huge thrill for us to be going to Hawke’s Bay for the first time, and it’s equally exciting to return to the capital.

SKY Stadium chief executive Shane Harmon is also excited for the club’s long-awaited return.

“Hosting a Warriors game is one of the highlights of our sporting calendar and we eagerly await the return of the NRL after four long years,” he said.