August 15, 2022

‘They don’t care’: Angry fans slam TV coverage of New Zealand Warriors’ emotional homecoming game

‘They don’t care about the Warriors’: Angry fans lash out at TV coverage of New Zealand’s emotional homecoming game after more than 1,000 days spent stranded in Australia due to Covid

  • Fox Sports copped a pasting from fans over its coverage of game in Auckland 
  • Commentators were working from a studio in Australia, not at the ground 
  • Viewers said the decision robbed the homecoming game of atmosphere 

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Fox Sports’ coverage of the Warriors’ long-awaited return to their home ground has been savaged by fans who claim the broadcaster’s failure to send commentators to New Zealand for the match is disrespectful and robbed the occasion of its atmosphere.

The side played their first game at Auckland’s Mount Smart stadium for more than 1,000 days on Sunday, with fans packing the stands to see them take on the Wests Tigers.

No team in the league gave up more during the pandemic than the Warriors, who were forced to base themselves in Redcliffe, Queensland due to travel restrictions imposed due to Covid.

Fans packed Mt Smart Stadium to see their team play in person for the first time in more than 1,000 days – but TV viewers felt robbed 

The atmosphere was intense as the team ran out - but according to fans watching at home, it didn't come across well because the commentators weren't at the ground

The atmosphere was intense as the team ran out - but according to fans watching at home, it didn't come across well because the commentators weren't at the ground

The atmosphere was intense as the team ran out – but according to fans watching at home, it didn’t come across well because the commentators weren’t at the ground

Without the team’s sacrifice, the entire NRL competition would have suffered untold damage – but according to furious fans, that wasn’t acknowledged in the coverage of the game, which saw commentators Brenton Speed and Shane Flanagan calling the action from a studio in Australia.

‘This is the Warriors biggest game since 2011 and Fox give us Brenton Speed and Shane Flanagan. They’ve admitted they don’t care about the Warriors by doing that,’ wrote Kenny Mac. 

‘Commentators remotely sounds so s**t. Can’t feel any atmosphere. Shame as it’s such a big occasion back in NZ. Hope this isn’t a regular thing,’ tweeted JR Stewart.

‘Why are Fox using two commentators sitting in a TV booth in Sydney for this game when we could get the Sky commentary and a real sense of the atmosphere? Just a bad decision,’ wrote Ed Jackson. 

‘I love Fox League, but I think they have missed a trick here by not using the Kiwi commentary for #NRLWarriorsTigers. It would have been amazing to hear Honey Hireme’s call of this momentous match,’ Steve Russo added.

Mike Meehall Wood summed it up by saying: ‘I know this is a broken record by now, but given that this is a homecoming game for the Warriors and that’s clearly a big story, do you think we might have bothered to send the commentators to Auckland for it?’

New Zealand-based commentator Honey Hireme-Smiler was sorely missed by viewers, who were desperate to get as much Kiwi flavour into the broadcast as possible

New Zealand-based commentator Honey Hireme-Smiler was sorely missed by viewers, who were desperate to get as much Kiwi flavour into the broadcast as possible

New Zealand-based commentator Honey Hireme-Smiler was sorely missed by viewers, who were desperate to get as much Kiwi flavour into the broadcast as possible  

Marcelo Montoya carts it up in the first half, with the Warriors running up a 14-2 lead at the break courtesy of two converted tries and a penalty goal

Marcelo Montoya carts it up in the first half, with the Warriors running up a 14-2 lead at the break courtesy of two converted tries and a penalty goal

Marcelo Montoya carts it up in the first half, with the Warriors running up a 14-2 lead at the break courtesy of two converted tries and a penalty goal

A crowd of more than 25,000 was expected for the team’s return, and that looked to be on the money as there was hardly an empty seat in the house when play kicked off after an emotional lead-up.

The Warriors had run up a 14-2 lead by halftime, with Tohu Harris crossing for the first try, followed by Chanel Harris-Tavita.   

Skipper Shaun Johnson summed up the sacrifices he and his teammates have been forced to make ahead of the clash.

‘Watching my little one grow up through FaceTime hasn’t been ideal, but we’ve all had our challenges, some boys haven’t been home for two years, some boys are without their families,’ he said.

‘But we’re taking a breath knowing that’s behind us now, so I’m going to rock up to Mt Smart with a smile on my face knowing that I’m going to go home and see my little one afterwards.’

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