As the Raiders prepare to jet over the Tasman to take on the New Zealand Warriors in New Plymouth, at least one man in green will feel right at home.
Two-time Junior Kiwi representative Joseph Tapine expects to see a patch of green amongst the Warriors crowd with his family making the trek from Wellington and Auckland to cheer on the Green Machine.
“My family have got no shame, so they’ll be there in their green,” laughed Tapine.
“I’m going to try and get as many tickets as I can. The fam’ is going to roll up in numbers, so I’ve got to try and help them out.
“I think they’re getting a couple of cars up there, and I think some might be coming down from Auckland, so they’re coming from everywhere.”
The Wellington-born backrower has had this clash penciled into his calendar ever since he put pen to paper with the Raiders.
“I always look forward to games like this. Going back to NZ, I always try and make the team. I have family up there so I’m looking forward to it.”
“My family have got no shame, so they’ll be there in their green”
Tapine knocked back an Under 20s contract offer from the Warriors as he went in search of greener pastures, but found leaving home to be extremely difficult.
“Leaving mum and all the family is hard at 18, trying to move over [to Australia] by myself. I looked at the long run, I wanted to come over here, and I’m pretty stubborn.”
Tapine’s homecoming has him brimming with excitement at the prospect of coming up against an imposing Warriors forward pack in his own backyard.
“They’ve got a big squad as well - it’s going to be physical. I’m looking forward to the game – I always look forward to the New Zealand game – and I’m just excited to go back home really.”
Despite missing Sia Soliola and Jeff Lima, Tapine believes that the young crop of forwards – led by himself and Luke Bateman – will be able to hold down the fort against the unpredictable Warriors outfit.
“The older guys always give you tips on how to play, and all the old guys have been good to me and Bato [Luke Bateman], giving us little tips on what to work on as well as the coaches.
“We’re really taking that on board and trying to bring the impact to the team.”
After two close losses, the Raiders will be looking to make amends against the Warriors this weekend.
“It’s definitely hard. We’ve been working on [closing games out]; we’re getting better at that kind of stuff. It’s even more heart-breaking to lose like that.”
22-year-old Tapine expects a solid contingent of Warriors fans to pile into Yarrow Stadium on Saturday.
“They’ll have a crowd all over New Zealand. All of New Zealand, when it comes to league, they love the Warriors. It’s going to be good; I’m looking forward to it.”
But no matter how many Warriors fans take their place in the crowd, you can expect one little patch of green to cheer louder than the rest.