NRL 2019: 'Courageous' Quentin Pongia's passing has Warriors motivated for Broncos clash

The Warriors will try to channel Quentin Pongia's renowned toughness, when they take on the Brisbane Broncos on Saturday night.

The former hard-man of the NRL died last Saturday, aged 48, after a short battle with bowel cancer.

Pongia played 18 of his 137 NRL games for the Auckland club, while he also had a successful run at the Canberra Raiders, winning a premiership in 1994.

Stephen Kearney played alongside Pongia at the Warriors in 1998 and the two shared several test matches in the Kiwis jersey.

The Warriors coach said Pongia's approach to rugby league made him a measuring stick for those that followed.

"I think the thing that stands out for me and I don't think 'Q' would mind me saying that he wasn't the most skilled player on the park, but he elevated himself to the levels he got to through sheer will and competitive nature," Kearney told media on Wednesday.

"To get to where he got to is all because of that. He was courageous and you knew if you were tackled by him, you would feel it."

Warriors trainer Ruben Wiki joined the Canberra Raiders with Pongia in 1993.

The two played five years together at the 'Green Machine', developing a close bond.

On Monday, Wiki spoke to the Warriors first-grade squad to give players an insight into what Pongia meant to his peers and what made him the toughest player of his generation.

"Ruben spoke wonderfully well yesterday about it," Kearney revealed. "What Quentin taught him was you train as you play, which is a bit of an old-school mentality.

"He reminded the lads that Quentin always put the team first. Whatever he could do to get the job done for his team - be it the Kiwis, Warriors, Raiders, whoever - he would do with all of his might."

Despite the sombre mood of the club after the death of Pongia, Saturday night is also a time for celebration, reflection and remembering history.

The clash with the Broncos will be a time-machine moment for some fans, as the club tries to recreate 1995, when the two sides met in the Warriors' very first NRL game.

Kearney was part of the Warriors 17 that lost 25-22 that night and while he doesn't remember too many specifics, he does recall the massive splash the club made on its debut.

"It was a big occasion," he said. "There was a fair bit put into that night, the whole pre-season.

"It was a special night for the footy club and to see the stadium full that night off the back of the build-up, all the hype, it was a special night."

NRL 2019: 'Courageous' Quentin Pongia's passing has Warriors motivated for Broncos clash

The Warriors are currently on their best run of the season, scoring back-to-back wins against the St George Dragons and Penrith Panthers.

They are just a win outside the top eight, level on eight points with the Broncos, who are fresh off beating the competition favourites and defending champions, the Sydney Roosters.

Kearney is well aware of the challenge his side faces against one of the competition's best forward packs this weekend.

The 46-year-old promises the Warriors will be raring to go by kick-off at Mt Smart Stadium.

"The focus is now on getting the job done on Saturday against a good Broncos team hitting some form. We have to hit our straps.

"As we know with this competition, it's not about the week before - it's about the next game.

"Last week is not always an indication of how this week will go. What I am confident about is our preparation.

"We will prepare ourselves the best we can this week, to give is the best chance to perform at a high standard on Saturday, regardless of who we are playing."


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