NRL: Wests Tigers deliver on promise of repaying NZ Warriors for COVID-19 sacrifices

The NZ Warriors kick off their NRL pre-season campaign on Thursday, returning to Mt Smart to face the Wests Tigers. 

The Sydneysiders have been vocal about repaying the club - as well as the country - for their sacrifices in ensuring the competition could proceed amid the restrictions caused by COVID-19 over the past two seasons.

But it seems they're the only team turning those sentiments into actions.

Tigers wing Ken Maumalo knows better than most what rugby league means to young Kiwi fans. 

Maumalo spent five and a half years at the Warriors and had no hesitations when asked to return with the Wests Tigers to visit a local Hamilton school on Thursday.

"When they told a couple of the boys that you're going to go to New Zealand I was the first one to put up my hand to come back home," Maumalo told Newshub.

Tigers chief executive Justin Pascoe is adamant the competition owes both the Warriors and New Zealand plenty after three years of sacrifice during the pandemic.

"The New Zealand community and the people of New Zealand didn't get to see rugby league for over a thousand days," said Pascoe. 

"I think the sacrifice the Warriors made to allow the NRL to continue on, we're really humbled and respectful of that."

But despite plenty of rhetoric from across the Tasman about repaying the Warriors and their fans, the Tigers are the only club who will bring a home game to New Zealand, when they play in Hamilton in August.

"What they do is up to them but we're really excited and proud to be coming here," added Pascoe.

"What the Warriors did for the game can never be underestimated."

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