The New Zealand Warriors rugby league team, which is based in Auckland, has committed to playing an annual game in Christchurch from next year, with the 2026 fixture to be played at the new Te Kaha stadium.
The 2024 and 2025 games will be played at Apollo Projects Stadium (formerly Orangetheory Stadium), which has a capacity of 17,000. Te Kaha is scheduled to open by April 2026 and will have 25,000 permanent seats.
The Warriors confirmed today (Monday) that next year’s game in Christchurch will be against the Canberra Raiders. The match at Apollo Projects Stadium will take place on March 22 and will mark the Warriors’ first-ever regular-season home game in Christchurch.
The Warriors are the only New Zealand-based team competing in Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL). The team has played eight NRL matches in Christchurch before, but they were all away fixtures.
Warriors chief executive Cameron George said: “This is such an exciting step forward for us as a club. We’ve been eager to bring NRL games to the region for some time and the building of Te Kaha Stadium has helped to make that a reality.
“We’re so grateful to Venues Otautahi and Christchurch NZ for enabling this to happen and look forward to playing in front of full houses in Christchurch from next year.”
The Warriors will also play a pre-season game at Apollo Projects Stadium in February 2024. Ahead of the 2023 season, the stadium played host as the Warriors fell to a 24-6 friendly defeat against Melbourne Storm.
Apollo Projects, a local design and commercial construction company, secured naming rights to Christchurch’s Orangetheory Stadium back in June. Global gym chain Orangetheory had sponsored the stadium since April 2019.
Last week, a timelapse video was released to showcase the progress being made on the construction of Te Kaha. In an interview with TheStadiumBusiness.com last month, Kent Summerfield, project director of delivery at Te Kaha, confirmed that the stadium remains on budget and on track to open by April 2026.
The Warriors’ primary home ground is Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the team was forced to play its ‘home’ games at Central Coast Stadium in the Australian state of New South Wales.