NRL 2019: Warriors thump Bulldogs in biggest-ever first-round victory

The tragic events in Christchurch were weighing heavily on the Warriors' minds before their NRL season opener against the Bulldogs on Saturday.

Hours before the match, the Warriors announced they'd open the gates to Mt Smart for free in an attempt to bring people together to watch their match against the Bulldogs.

There was a minute's silence to honour the 49 people killed and the many injured as 19,000 fans watched the Auckland side beat the Bulldogs 40-6 - the club's biggest first-round win in history.

Rookie five-eighth Adam Keighran led the way, scoring a try and kicking six conversions for a haul of 18 points, while Solomone Kata scored a brace.

Coach Stephen Kearney said it was an emotional day for the squad, especially for utility forward Jazz Tevaga - who is from Christchurch.

"What we do as a job, we get an opportunity to go out and potentially have people clapping, smiling and cheering when we finish. That's 80 minutes of a bit of happiness in the day after a pretty horrific day or so," Kearney said.

"In the events of the last couple of days there hasn't been a great deal to smile about, so the lads were really keen to put in a performance that could make some people smile.

"The guys did really well to manage the emotion and focus on what was important."

A prayer session on Friday night was followed by a morning meeting in which players spoke openly about their reaction to the horrific events which had rocked the country.   

Tevaga said when the news broke he was quickly on the phone to his friends and family to see if they were safe.

Jazz Tevaga.
Jazz Tevaga. Photo credit: AAP

"I was pretty emotional hearing the news yesterday. I have got a lot of family down there, and obviously, I was born down there, my heart was very heavy yesterday, it was this morning as well," Tevaga told

"We went into camp last night around dinner time, and all the boys had seen the footage, and we could just feel the vibe and energy of the team was very heavy.

"We had a lot to play for - the whole of New Zealand was feeling it - we just wanted to try and get the win and instil some positivity back into New Zealand."

The Warriors are back in action next Sunday against the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium in Sydney.