'Why ruin that?': Webster rips NZ expansion talk

'Why ruin that?': Webster rips NZ expansion talk

Warriors coach Andrew Webster has urged the NRL not to rush into introducing a second New Zealand team into the competition.

Ex-NRL boss David Moffat is leading the charge for a second Kiwi team – the South Island Kea – to be based out of Christchurch, and the under-construction Te Kaha Stadium.

The success of the Warriors has seen their popularity explode in the past two seasons. Home games at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium regularly sell out.

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Webster acknowledged he had skin in the game, but said the Warriors had a good thing going, and premature expansion would “ruin” it.

“I really do hope that we keep one team in New Zealand for a lot longer, just keep making this product even better,” Webster said.

Warriors NRL fans in 2023.

Andrew Webster believes premature NZ expansion would “ruin” the good thing the Warriors have going. NRL Images

“There’s certainly no complacency from us as a club, as players, or staff or anyone in the club that we’ve hit where we want to hit, so I’d like us to nail that first before we did that (expand).

“Not to say that it can’t happen one day.

“People would say I’m being biased and that I’m holding back the rest of the country, but I think it doesn’t matter where you are in New Zealand right now, they want to go home and watch the Warriors.

“I think the community, from the top of the country down to the bottom, is behind the Warriors, so I don’t know why we need to ruin that.”

Watch the 2024 NRL premiership live and free on Nine and 9Now.

Jacob Laban, Marcelo Montoya and Paul Roache of the Warriors celebrate with Adam Pompey of the Warriors after he scored a try against the Panthers.

The Warriors have exploded in popularity. Bradley Kanaris via Getty Images

The popularity of the Warriors is such that SANZAAR, who runs the Super Rugby, scheduled the semi final between the Hurricanes and the Chiefs in Wellington for Saturday afternoon, in an apparent attempt to avoid a clash with the Warriors-Storm match in Auckland that night.

While Super Rugby tournament director Matt Barlow didn’t directly confirm the Warriors match was the reason behind the scheduling decision, he acknowledged fans may wish to watch other sport.

“The finals schedule has some flexibility around time slots, so we looked at all sporting action taking place across the weekend to ensure we’re giving fans the opportunity to enjoy as much sport as possible,” he said.

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