NRL 2022: NZ Warriors winger Marcelo Montoya embraces club's homecoming

NZ Warriors winger Marcelo Montoya has finally touched down in his new 'home', ready to embrace the emotional lift that comes with his club's return to Mt Smart Stadium. 

"It's awesome to finally be in New Zealand," he said. "Now that I'm over here, it's pretty surreal. 

"There's a few fans here to sign some jerseys and just to be back here, it feels good, it feels right.

"There's a lot of excitement. We're coming here for the week to play and to get a win against the Tigers, but also knowing, in the near future, we'll be moving here.

The Warriors will play their first game in New Zealand in almost three years, when they take on Wests Tigers in front of their packed-out homeground on Sunday.

More than 26,500 supporters will jam into the stands for the club’s first match at home in 1038 days, since hosting South Sydney Rabbitohs on August 30, 2019.

The club has been forced to host their games at Redcliffe, Queensland this season, due to COVID-19 restrictions, and has endured a torrid 2022 season.

With mid-season departures to head coach Nathan Brown and star prop Matt Lodge, the side sit just two points off the bottom of the NRL ladder in 15th.

While Brown and Lodge were unwilling to commit to the Warriors' relocation to New Zealand, others in the camp have welcomed the return.

Montoya is relishing the club's homecoming and knew the circumstances that came with his signature.

"I wasn't at the club two years ago and obviously, because of the circumstances, I haven't been over yet. I get to experience that this week and get to meet people I haven't met yet at Mt Smart, it's very exciting times.

"I'm looking forward to it and it's going to be a good week. I signed for the club, because I wanted to come here. 

"I wanted the opportunity and the club gave me the opportunity. Now it's time for me to come here and experience New Zealand, the culture, the people. 

"It feels good to finally be here."

The Warriors are winless in their last seven games, with their last victory coming against Canberra Raiders in April.

But a clash against the 14th-ranked Tigers in front of a soldout Mt Smart Stadium provides an ideal opportunity to kickstart a Warriors turnaround.

Montoya has already witnessed the power of a full venue, after last weekend's NZ Kiwis v Mate Ma'a Tonga international.

The Warriors sit just two points off the bottom of the NRL ladder in 15th.
The Warriors sit just two points off the bottom of the NRL ladder in 15th. Photo credit: Photosport

"I was actually surprised to see the support for the Tongans, being a Kiwis home game," he said. "It was a packed stadium and I'm looking forward to Sunday being packed again versus the Tigers.

"Obviously for that future, that's exciting, but we also have to understand that we have a game on our hands on Sunday, and we have to bring the attitude, attack that game and play to win."

Warriors chief executive Cameron George hopes to repay the faith of their loyal supporters.

"We're so thrilled having Mt Smart packed for our members, fans, families and sponsors, who will at last see the Warriors playing at home," he said.

"The resilience and patience they've shown has been extraordinary, and the way they have embraced this occasion has been unbelievable.

"We can't wait for July 3, one of the most important and emotional occasions in our history."

Join us at 4pm Sunday for live updates of the Warriors' NRL homecoming against the Tigers