Warriors owner Mark Robinson met with Dolphins officials, Moreton Bay Regional Council Mayor Peter Flannery and Moreton Bay Region Industry and Tourism CEO Shane Newcombe at Dolphin Stadium to celebrate the landmark deal today.
It’s a three-year commitment, starting next year, with the Dolphins acting as a feeder club to the Auckland-based side in the NRL competition.
The best of the Warriors’ players, who don’t make the top side each week, will play for the Dolphins in the Intrust Super Cup. They’ll most likely arrive each Wednesday, train with the team and play on the weekend.
Mr Robinson says having a relationship with a Queensland club like the Dolphins is just as beneficial to the Warriors as it is to the Moreton Bay-based club.
“What we’re looking at is to learn a lot from the Dolphins because they’re a Queensland club and they’re professional. Obviously they’ve put themselves forward for an NRL team and we want to learn from them and they can learn from what we’re doing as well and how we go about running our NRL club in the season and how it all operates,” he says.
And if the Dolphins are successful in their bid for team in the NRL, Mr Robinson says he’ll be as happy as they are.
“If these boys get a nod, we want to work with them continuously and be their friends because we can learn a lot from each other. If they get it, I’m going to congratulate them and help them. We’ll help them as much as we can.”
In the meantime, he’s hoping both clubs can win premierships and foster the talent they have on their playing rosters. And he’s keen for Dolphin Stadium to host some Warriors games in 2021 and beyond.
“Next year, would probably be a trial match to start with. We’re in discussions at the moment but that should be pretty much confirmed and then it’s really up to the NRL if they approve the size of the ground,” Mr Robinson says.
It’s a hope shared by Dolphins CEO Tony Murphy who’s keen to host a Warriors V Storm trial game in February and believes they may be able to secure a couple of other games throughout the season.
These could be Warriors home games or an opposing side’s home game. A Sunday afternoon at Redcliffe would be prime time in New Zealand.
“That would be the time that would be most suitable to us and them,” Mr Murphy says.
Mr Murphy says the new deal came after it became clear the Brisbane Broncos were streamlining their business and reviewing affiliations.
The Dolphins wanted to secure a clear pathway for their players to progress to the NRL and could see the benefits in forging a relationship with the Warriors beyond football.
“There’s three parts: the football side of things, also the business side of things and tourism. Football, I think that’s up to the coaches. A certain amount of Warriors boys will come back into our side and that will bring some very good players back to the Dolphins. This will bolster crowds with Kiwis coming to see the Warriors players play,” he says.
“We just need a pathway we needed a different future for ourselves and thought this was the best option. It was a no-brainer. And these guys have said if they can help us get into the NRL, they would be proud to help us out.
“We’ll just see where the NRL takes us, nothing is certain. We’ve gone into it with the understanding that it might change at some stage. If we make it, things will change.”
“There’s a massive opportunity to draw Kiwis to the Moreton Bay Region. It’s sitting on a platter for us to promote it,” Mr Murphy says.
It’s also fostering a relationship between Moreton Bay Regional Council and Moreton Bay Region Industry and Tourism and the Warriors club.
“This could be anything for the region. It’s limited by how we think, but as we get into it there will be enormous benefits,” he says.
And with tourism between the two countries likely to be the first to open post-COVID-19, it makes sense to ensure Moreton Bay is top-of-mind.
Mayor Peter Flannery agrees there are economic and tourism opportunities to be harnessed.
“It’s a pretty massive injection for the region and the opportunity for interstate travellers to travel to the Moreton Bay Region and view their team training or playing on a regular basis. The Warriors have a big following and we have a big New Zealand community in our region and I’m sure that will draw them out to see their local lads,” Mayor Flannery says.
He says they will come from the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and Brisbane to support the Warriors, bringing more tourists to the region who will spend money on accommodation, dining, retail and more.
Moreton Bay Region Industry and Tourism CEO Shane Newcombe says the region is well-positioned to cater for a business and tourism boom.
“With about 20,000 New Zealand expats calling the Moreton Bay Region home, this will be further incentive for them to support the Dolphins, come to games and join the club,” Mr Newcombe says.
“It also opens up the New Zealand tourist market and gives us an opportunity to promote our region and all it has to offer. It’s an opportunity we’ll be grabbing with both hands.
“Hosting NRL games and having Warriors players in the Dolphins’ Queensland Cup team, will be a boon for local business as supporters visit and stay in our region.”
“I think it’s a massive positive for the Dolphins’ supporters and people in a year that hasn’t had too many highlights for anybody,” Mr Murphy says.
“It’s a bit of hope for the sport that we love and we’re doing something positive not sitting back and letting it happen to us, but making it happen. We’re trying to be on the front foot and make sure the Dolphins are well positioned in the sport.”
Mayor Flannery says it’s an opportunity that wasn’t there a week ago and should give business owners and tourism operators hope for the future.
“We want to put Moreton Bay Region on the map over in New Zealand. It’s a friendly place to come and has great natural assets to enjoy in the cooler months of the winter over there,” Mayor Flannery says.
“We’re happy to work with them. You never know what opportunities will come.”
And he says there’s a touch of ANZAC about it – Kiwis and Aussies coming together to help each other out.