Source / NZ Warriors (Twitter)
Māori All Stars and Melbourne Storm hooker Brandon Smith (Te Rarawa) is among several leading NRL players who have made an online plea for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the New Zealand Government to help nine fully vaccinated Warriors staff members return home to Aotearoa.
"The last 2 NRL seasons have been like no other. 2 countries, 2 states, 8 relocations and 8 weeks of isolation. To represent the only New Zealand team in the NRL is an extremely proud and humbling feeling. Knowing that we represent our country every time we put the uniform on is a responsibility that we feel grateful to have," league star Brandon Smith posted on social media Saturday.
Others players to share the same message calling for compassion from the government included Māori All Stars and Warriors fullback Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (Waikato-Tainui) and Canberra Raiders fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, as well as former Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
"This isn’t just about the NZ Warriors players, this is about the “Real Warriors”, the people working tirelessly and selflessly behind the scenes. Who have our backs, win or lose, who do their jobs no questions asked. They show the true nature of being a New Zealander. It’s our turn to work tirelessly for them.
"Please @jacindaardern @chrishipkinsmp @grantrobertsonmp help our 9 fully vaccinated staff members get home to our country, whom they have represented admirably and with pride. Please help them get back to their families."
The club double-downed also asking fans to check the players' social media accounts to find out how they can show support.
"Our playing group has expressed their support in trying to get our Kiwi staff home to see their families, jump onto their social accounts to see how you can support," a Warriors Instagram post said Saturday.
This followed the club's "shout out" to all the Warriors backroom staff on both sides of the Tasman earlier in the post.
"A shout out to the tireless group of men and women who work behind the scenes for the club.
"Not just in Australia but also at home at Mt Smart the work this small group of people puts in often doesn’t get enough credit and in the past two years have performed admirably under very trying circumstances.
This ones for you guys."