NRL 2022: Marcelo Montoya grateful for support from NZ Warriors after homophobic slur ban

NZ Warriors winger Marcelo Montoya is grateful for his teammates' support during his four-week NRL ban for using a homophobic slur.

Montoya, 26, has banished to the sidelines, after he was caught by on-field microphones using a homophobic slur towards North Queensland Cowboys winger Kyle Feldt.

A contrary conduct charge from the NRL followed, before Montoya was given his four-game ban, which could have been longer, had he not expressed remorse during a judicial hearing.

NRL 2022: Marcelo Montoya grateful for support from NZ Warriors after homophobic slur ban

But with his suspension now up, Montoya will start on the wing for the Warriors in Saturday's match against South Sydney Rabbitohs, as the club looks to bounce back from a disastrous 29-10 defeat to Cronulla Sharks last weekend.

Montoya has expressed his gratitude for the role his teammates and the wider club played in helping him through his ban.

"The respect from the boys means the world to me," Montoya said. "For myself, nothing means more than the opinions of my teammates and the staff here at the Warriors.

"On the other end, I couldn't really control what was going to happen after what happened on the field. That was a situation I put myself in and I had to be prepared for what was to come.

"Everyone's allowed their own opinion and that's what they can say.

"I just try to focus on what I can do and be my best self. That's all I can do."

In Montoya's absence, the Warriors' results have hardly instilled a sense of pride within the club. A contentious 22-14 defeat to Sydney Roosters was followed by a club-record 70-10 thrashing at the hands of Melbourne Storm on Anzac Day.

And although the Warriors recovered with a Golden Point victory against Canberra Raiders, last week's defeat against a Sharks side reduced to 11 men has again put heat on the Kiwi club.

Like the club's fans, Montoya could only watch on during those low points, but says he did his best to ensure he helped his teammates every step of the way.

"It's been tough in the sense where, last year, I was injured, so couldn't play," he added. "This year, I've been fit, but couldn't play because of suspension.

"But at the end of the day, that's the situation I was in, so [I need] to just attack what I could, bring my energy to training every day and be positive around the boys - and that's what I did.

"I couldn't be there kicking stones, I had to flip the switch to my training, make sure I was upbeat and bring that energy for the boys, that was my main focus."

This week, Montoya knows exactly what's required of him, with a win and other results going their way potentially opening the door for the Warriors to return to the NRL top eight.

"For myself, it's important I come in and do my job. That's all I need to do and obviously bring the energy up in the boys, in and around training.

"My focus for this week is just to focus on my job and to put my best foot forward in getting us a good result on the weekend."

Join us from 5pm Saturday for live updates of the Warriors v South Sydney Rabbitohs NRL clash