The Vodafone Warriors hit the field this Saturday at Mt Smart Stadium against the Bulldogs and while four of their biggest supporters get on with their own busy lives, their support for their men will go into overdrive this season.
Ashley Walker is the fiancee of captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck; Jess Blair is married to 2nd rower Adam; Roimata Beale is married to centre Gerard, and Sarah Green is married to five-eighth's Blake. It's a sure bet the team's growing tribe of children from these four will be at every home game for the club's 25th season.
Walker will have nine-month-old daughter Amara in tow; Blair will have Taika 2, and Harlem 8; Beale, her tribe of three, Nixon, 6, Maxwell, 4 and Matisse, 3; and Green will have Boston, 5, and Sadie, 2.
All four credit the family atmosphere at the Warriors for keeping them as a tight-knit community ahead of what they all want — a triumphant season.
"I do feel for Rog and the other players with kids, as they're away a lot during the season and it's tough for them being away from their children so much," Walker says.
"For us girls though, we all get along really well and everyone is so genuine. We're so lucky with how well we are supported in the club too — we get included in so many social events, so we really feel like we're part of it. It's not only about the players."
Walker and Tuivasa-Sheck were South Auckland-born childhood sweethearts and met at a concert when they were at high school. They had a long-distance relationship while Tuivasa-Sheck played in Sydney as Walker finished her studies.
She worked for a corporate events company in both Australia and New Zealand before becoming a full-time mum and says she feels really lucky to be back in New Zealand to have the support of family — particularly her parents — who live just five minutes away. The New South Wales-born Greens are also childhood sweethearts. They have been together since they were 16 and have been married six years.
Green, a trained primary school teacher, says the family-friendly Warriors are amazing and she has found a great group of girlfriends.
"When the boys are away, us girls spend lots of time together with our kids. Several of us have formed an indoor netball team called The Better Halves, which Roi (Beale) and I both belong to," Green says.
Wellington-born Beale more than equals her husband in the fitness department. As well as being mum to three young children, she runs her own personal-training business, is head trainer at Auckland's popular Tamaki F45 studio, and is currently sitting at the top in the 54kg Amateur Boxing division in NZ. Her goal is to make it to the 2020 Olympic Games. Queensland-born Blair ran her own successful naturopath and nutrition business Wellness by Blair for several years in Australia.
She took that business online in January last year when they moved to Auckland. Blair now works as an in-house naturopath for Abeeco. She is also working on a book about wellbeing and nutrition, due to be published in the next few months. Blair is currently studying for a Post Graduate Diploma in Health Promotion and is learning Te Reo Maori. Blair says she naturally gravitated towards Green and Beale, as their three husbands joined the Warriors around the same time from Australian NRL teams.
"It's pretty special having made such great girlfriends through the club and having that support network — we all help each other out when we need it."