The visiting members of the NZ Warriors rugby league team won’t be lacking for local knowledge during their time here.
One of the players, Jack Murchie, played First Grade for the Gerringong Lions before being talent scouted by the Canberra Raiders.
He was there for five years before joining the Warriors mid last season.
“We won the Premiership when I was with the Lions, and Michael Cronin was a big mentor to me,” says Jack.
South Coast born and bred, his family moved to Gerringong six or seven years ago.
Jack says it has been awesome playing for the Warriors.
“They are a good group of boys and have all been very welcoming.
“We were based at Terrigal last season, which was tough for those that didn’t have their families in Australia.”
Jack is doing his best to be a good guide to the local area.
“I’ve teed them into some good local coffee spots and given them a run down of the best beaches,” he says.
“I’ve told them they can’t miss playing golf at Gerringong.”
Mark Andrew, Head of Rehabilitation and Athletic Performance, is also a local who lives at Minnamurra.
He started working with the Warriors this year.
“We’ll be here for six weeks, which is great for me,” he says.
“Our physio is Mark Burn, who is a local guy, and there are a number of other local people and businesses also involved in our stay.
“With a smaller group we get a lot more time to work on individual skills.”
The 15 players, half the squad, are those with Australian-based families. The rest of the squad will train in NZ, so quarantine doesn’t keep families apart.
The squad will be staying at The Sebel until 19 December. After Christmas they will be relocating to Tamworth, and then back to NZ if the restrictions ease up.
“The Warriors have earned a special place in the hearts of sports fans for their personal sacrifices during the 2020 NRL season,” says Mayor Mark Honey.
“While their Kiama visit will be shorter than their lengthy stay in Australia during the last season, we will do everything to make them feel right at home.”
He encouraged locals to provide a warm welcome to the players and coaching staff, while respecting their COVID protocols.
“While players will be taking part in open training sessions which everyone can enjoy watching, please be understanding of any restrictions they have about mingling with the public,” he says.
“I understand the club is organising some community events, as well as visiting the local attractions.”
The Mayor notes the Warriors are just the latest in a growing list of rugby league teams choosing to stay and train in Kiama.
Other teams include the Australian Kangaroos, Cronulla Sharks and English Super League club Hull FC.
“My thanks to the team at Destination Kiama who have helped secure this latest visit, as well as the outdoor Council staff who have helped prepare the training grounds for the Warriors.”