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Warriors handed rare home ground opener

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 24/11/2016

The Warriors will start an NRL campaign at Mount Smart Stadium for the first time in eight years when they host the Newcastle Knights in their 2017 opener.

Five of the club's first six games are on home soil, including the first three.

They face the Knights on Sunday, March 5, followed by this year's beaten finalists the Melbourne Storm five days later, also at their Auckland base.

A third-round match against the Bulldogs will be in Dunedin on March 17, where the Sydney club have chosen to take their "home" game.

The last time the Warriors played an opening game at Mt Smart Stadium was in 2009 against the Parramatta Eels.

Since then they have either been across the Tasman or at Auckland's Eden Park, in 2011 and 2012.

"It has been too long since we started our season at our home ground so we couldn't be more excited," Warriors managing director Jim Doyle said.

Doyle was also pleased the club will contest five Friday night home games, including the Bulldogs clash and a round 11 match against the St George Illawarra Dragons on May 19, which will be hosted in Hamilton.

It is more than five years since the Warriors last hosted a Friday night game.

There could yet be further such fixtures scheduled, with the details of the final six rounds to be revealed later in the season.

The Sea Eagles will host the Warriors in Perth for a second-straight season, on July 1.

There are six sides who the Warriors face only once in the regular season - the defending champion Cronulla Sharks, Sydney Roosters, Brisbane Broncos, South Sydney Rabbitohs, North Queensland Cowboys and Wests Tigers.

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