NZ Warriors to face Bulldogs in Wellington

JONATHAN MILLMOW
Last updated 05:00 10/12/2012
Ben Barba.
Getty
STAR QUALITY: Bulldogs fullback Ben Barba.

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Once he got over the shock, Wellington league boss Jason Hemson was excited to hear the Warriors would host the Bulldogs in an NRL clash at Westpac Stadium in May.

Hemson was not in the loop on this one, but it hasn't dented his enthusiasm for the Warriors' first "home" game outside Auckland.

Hemson believes the round nine clash, on May 11 at Westpac Stadium, could draw a crowd of between 20,000-25,000 if "marketed properly" and ticket prices are realistic.

"I hope they [Warriors players] spend some time down here beforehand," Hemson said.

"In the past they have come down very late in the week. Hopefully they do some work in the schools and the clubs and promote the game.

"I would hope for at least 20,000, pushing up to 25,000 if they market it well."

The largest crowd for a NRL game in Wellington was in 2001 when 27,724 watched the Bulldogs against the Warriors. This match will mark a homecoming for Wellington-born prop Ben Matulino and hooker Alehana Mara, while skipper Simon Mannering was living in Wellington when signed by the Warriors.

Prop Russell Packer will also see it as a home game given his Foxton links.

As for the Bulldogs, they certainly have some drawing power.

Coached by Des Hasler, their ranks contain Dally M Player of the Year Ben Barba, former Warrior Krisnan Inu and Kiwis Greg Eastwood, Sam Perrett and Sam Kasiano.

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