With eight days to go until the Rugby League World Cup, Kiwis captain Adam Blair is leaving no stone unturned ahead of their first match against Samoa. The team spent today bonding at Tuurangawaewae.
Preparing for the World Cup at the home of Maaori Rugby League is a move that the Kiwi team hopes will pay off.
Kiwis Coach David Kidwell says, "It was very important you know, for my vision leading up to this World Cup. You know, I wanted 24 guys here that could bring back to the roots."
The experiencing staying on a marae was an experience for all and also an opportunity for the team to bond together, ahead of their first match on the 28th of October.
“The boys have really loved being here. We had a Pōwhiri on Tuesday night, went to a Māori school yesterday.”
It's a homecoming of sorts for Waikato-Tainui descendants like Te Maire Martin and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak. Both players are based in Australia and hardly get the opportunity to come home.
Winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (Waikato-Tainui) says, “It’s awesome, my families just around the corner, so yeah it’s good to get back to your roots, and I guess learn about our culture."
The Kiwis will be back in the Waikato in three weeks' time to face a strong Tongan side, who have been boosted by the inclusion of Jason Taumalolo, and Andrew Fifita.
"Its’ gonna be a massive game. I think it’s a good thing for the game as well. There’s a competition ahead of us.”
Before Tonga though, the Kiwis must first direct their attention to their Pacific Island cousins Samoa in the opening at Mount Smart Stadium.