Roger Tuivasa-Sheck says the Warriors were “really gutted” at failing to beat Manly for the people of Christchurch, but NRL chief Todd Greenberg has hailed both clubs’ for rallying around the city in the wake of the mosque shootings tragedy.
Tuivasa-Sheck was visibly dejected when he spoke to reporters in the dressing room, saying the “most disappointing part” of the 46-12 defeat was not delivering for the people of Christchurch.
“A lot of emotions and a lot of things have been around about what’s happened to Christchurch and we wanted to come here and do our best – be at our best – and put on a performance that was something for the people here to think about and unfortunately we couldn’t do that,” the Warriors captain said.
“That’s the toughest part. We walk out of here really gutted.”
Christchurch-born Warriors utility forward Jazz Tevaga – who had spent the morning “scraping up tickets” for 17 family members and friends – shared Tuivasa-Sheck’s pain.
“It’s very disappointing,” admitted Tevaga, who had been so emotionally affected that he could enter the Masjid Al Noor mosque after the Warriors performed a haka there on Friday.
“The intention was to come home and put a smile on some faces, but obviously, it didn’t go to plan”, he said.
While the result was humbling for the Warriors, and for most of the 11,774 fans at Christchurch stadium, Greenberg said he was “really proud of our clubs in the work they have done this week in this community”.
The two teams had #TheyAreUs slogans on their match jerseys, came together in a pre-match huddle for a moment’s silence in honour of to the Christchurch slayings victims and posed together for a photograph after the final whistle.
Speaking to NRL.com before the game, Greenberg said: “We’ve only got a small number of values and inclusiveness is one of them, but it’s more than just a word.
“This weekend represents everything that’s good about the game.”
Greenberg said the terror attack in Christchurch – which killed 50 people – “puts context into everything”.
“When you think you are having a tough day, have a look at this community.
But he said rugby league’s response showed “when our players stand up and our clubs stand up for what’s good, we have a huge voice.
“We need to use that voice very carefully, and this weekend I couldn’t be prouder.”
Greenberg said when the world first learned of the Christchurch attacks “you are just appalled that that sort of violence can still happen inside communities in 2019. But the reality is, it’s there and we must face it head-on.”
But he said “the power of sport – and our game, rugby league – does bring communities like this together”.
Greenberg said the Manly-Warriors game would be “emotional on a number of fronts”, but it was “good that are here, and we are supporting and doing what we can.”
Speaking from the concourse at Christchurch Stadium, he said people going to the game were “probably living with a lot of fear in the last couple of weeks”.
“For us, being able to ring some smiles and bring the community together, and importantly today to acknowledge the first responders [to the shootings] is very powerful and, again, it shows that rugby league can make a real difference.”
Manly’s veteran coach Des Hasler agreed after the game that both clubs had done “an outstanding job for this community”.
“Who know, the expansion might be a NRL team in Christchurch,” he said.