NRL: NZ Warriors new recruit confident move to New Zealand won't harm State of Origin prospects

It's been seven years since NZ Warriors last had a player line up in State of Origin, arguably the pinnacle of rugby league.

But that streak could come to an end in 2024, thanks to the arrival of new recruit Kurt Capewell.

The 30-year-old has arrived as the final major signing by coach Andrew Webster for 2024, after inking a three-year contract to move to Auckland from Brisbane Broncos.

Of the 284 players to have turned out in a Warriors jersey, just six have achieved the feat of playing State of Origin while at the Kiwi club.

Kurt Capewell has played nine times for Queensland.
Kurt Capewell has played nine times for Queensland. Photo credit: Getty Images

And while Reece Walsh came close to making that seven when he was called up in 2021, injury on the eve of the game leaves Jacob Lillyman as the last player to have represented either Queensland or New South Wales while at the Warriors.  

Capewell's arrival, though, boosts those chances – significantly.

Since his debut in 2020, the second-rower has played nine times for Queensland, including in their 2023 series victory.

In the past, the Warriors have been limited to signing Australian players facing limited prospects across the Tasman – impacting their representative prospects on ability rather than geography.

Capewell's case is different. And when asked over whether moving to the Warriors will affect his representative career, he knows playing well at his new club will keep him in the picture.

"I guess it doesn't affect it really, too much," Capewell told Newshub. "When it comes to State of Origin, if I'm playing good footy first and foremost, winning games at my club and playing good for my club, hopefully I put myself back in the frame.

"It's something that I love to play, it's my favourite game of the year.

Kurt Capewell.
Kurt Capewell. Photo credit: Photosport

"Go Queensland."

After only moving to New Zealand fulltime in January, Capewell made his first Warriors appearance in Saturday's 34-22 victory over the Dolphins at Go Media Stadium Mt Smart.

Starting in the No.12 jersey, Capewell made 35 tackles in limited minutes, as well as breaking four tackles with ball in hand.  

And boasting Grand Final experience with both Penrith Panthers and the Broncos, Capewell's new teammates are relishing his signing.

"Kurt's obviously a player that's in and around everything," said Addin Fonua-Blake. "He never dies wondering.

"It's good to have him here at the club. He brings a lot of leadership, and a lot of experience as well."

Like many in the NRL, Capewell has also taken notice of the fanatical fanbase that supported the Warriors in 2023.

Saturday's pre-season win came in front a full house at Mt Smart, and the season opener against Cronulla Sharks on March 8 is almost certain to be a sellout as well.

And after three years with their team away from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, Capewell says the team's success is exactly what its fanbase deserves.  

"Over the last couple of years, you can really see what Warriors fans have had to go through in supporting their team," he said.

"They stuck solid, and stood by the players. Doing that really put the club in a good position, in terms of their fans now we're back in Auckland

"The boys are always keen to engage with the fans. To see that turnout for the trial in the weekend just shows how well the club is going, and how loyal and supportive the fans are."