NZ Warriors

NZ Warriors fans honour 'The Beast'

Vatuvei on Monday confirmed he had been granted an early release to join Super League club Salford, with the 31-year-old due to depart for the UK on Sunday.

For one night only, Mt Smart has been temporarily renamed 'Manu Vatuvei Stadium' and while his new contract prevented from playing one last game for the Auckland club, his soon-to-be ex-teammates formed a guard of honour as 'The Beast' walked onto the field with his family wearing the No 5 jersey he has held a mortgage on for more than a decade. He shed a few tears as he walked out to the rapturous applause.

NZ Warriors could play in Pacific Islands

The move would be designed to boost the profile of both the Warriors and the NRL in a key development region.

Games staged in Tonga, Samoa or Fiji could potentially draw large crowds, with rugby union's Super Rugby competition recently staging a game in Suva, Fiji, which attracted 19,000 spectators.            

The Warriors' current deal with Mount Smart in Auckland, however, means that they can play only one away game a season outside of Mount Smart.