Great day for the underdog

JOHN TAMIHERE COLUMN
Last updated 05:00 02/10/2011

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The  only story this weekend is the outstanding performance of the Warriors in making the National Rugby League's Grand Final.

This team carries the heart and soul of low-income New Zealanders.

These are the people from the true heartland of rugby league – from Arowhenua, east Christchurch and the West Coast in the south, Porirua and Wainuiomata in the centre to Huntly, south and West Auckland and Whangarei in the north. They work hard, play hard, and are also often up cleaning, mending and cooking for you before you even think of leaving home.

When you get home, many of them work in cleaning up after you. Most of them will be dressed by Stephen Tindall, and a dentist would have a field day at Mt Smart Stadium if he or she could get paid.

In communities that support the Warriors, they know that the top end of town and corporate New Zealand back them very rarely. They know their local authorities will back other codes first and them last.

They know when they were used as the guinea pigs to test out Eden Park for this Rugby World Cup they came in for huge criticism for acting exactly the same as the rich folk who go to the Wellington Rugby Sevens and attend major events at Eden Park but never face the same scrutiny.

The Warriors represent, week in and week out, the values and courage of the underdog. If they can get up over Manly today, our women who will go down to Pak'n Save and Countdown on Monday morning, will walk with their backs straight and heads held high because a team of our boys knocked off one of the toughest Grand Final competitions in the world.

The men will be around the smoko sheds reliving the outstanding result. Should the Warriors win, you cannot put a dollar value on the impact it will have in the poor areas of New Zealand that keep the faith and support the underdog.

It has been 17 long years and we have appeared only twice at Grand Final time.

Every time the Warriors play, the Aussies rise and want to bash them. This is a tough competition – 26 bruising weeks to make the top eight and three huge finals games to make the Grand Final.

And it doesn't get much better than this, because the Auckland Vulcans side is in the Grand Final on the same Sydney field and the Under-20s make it three great New Zealand teams in the finals.

This suggests that within the next three to five years, when the Kangaroos run out against the Kiwis, it will be anyone's game, not just theirs.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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