The NRL world has criticized security at Mt Smart Stadium in New Zealand after a Warriors fan was booted out and informed he’d been banned for life for doing a shoey.
After two years of waiting to see the Warriors return home for the NRL season after the pandemic-interrupted seasons the past two years have required the team to relocate to Australia.
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The 2022 season finally marked a homecoming for the side as border restrictions and travel requirements eased to the point where summarizing the NRL’s regular state of affairs was possible.
It marked the end of a long wait for 31-year-old Warriors fan Calley Gibbons.
Gibbons, who has held season tickets in front of the coaches box since 2006, caught the attention of fans during the Warriors’ homecoming game against Wests Tigers in round 16, when he downed a shoey to the delight of an already excited crowd.
The bricklayer repeated the act in round 20, but it would seem security had enough of his antics during Friday’s demolition of Canterbury.
According to reports, the specific reason why Gibbons was handed a life ban was because an unauthorized camera crew had followed him to capture the moment – but he says he wasn’t given much of a reason.
“I was evicted from the stadium and the security guard escorted me out and told me I had a lifetime ban,” Gibbons told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“Your guess is as good as mine as to why I was kicked out. It’s just wrong.
“I told them I had purchased the beer from the venue, I was not intoxicated and it was my choice as to how I consumed the beer.
“I’m not sure if one particular security guard had it in for me. He told me, ‘You won’t be coming back here in this lifetime’.
“I’d only done the one shoey. At least I got one good shoey in. I went to a bar and did a few shoeys every time the Warriors scored.”
Gibbons earned plenty of support from the wider NRL world for his shenanigans.
By the end of Friday night a petition had already been released to overturn his ban, already attracting thousands of signatures.
Triple M host Tony Squires was stunned by the harshness of the response.
“This is a poor bloke who’s waited a couple of years (for a Warriors home game). He gets there, he’s excited and now he’s got a lifetime ban,” he said on Saturday.
NRL star Jai Arrow was also of the opinion a life ban was heavy handed, saying it was ‘like you can’t have fun anymore’.
Warriors earn season-best victory with Bulldogs demolition job
Gibbons had plenty to celebrate despite being kicked out of Mt Smart Stadium, as the Warriors broke to a 42-18 win over the Bulldogs.
While on paper the side had a reasonable chance, the prospect of reversing a heavy defeat to the Rabbitohs a week before should have made the task harder.
However, the Warriors produced arguably the finest game of the entire season in front of a big Friday night home crowd.
“Off the top of my head I’d say it’d be pretty close,” said Warriors captain Tohu Harris.
“In terms of our attitude and effort, it was the closest to a full 80 minutes we’ve had. There was that period where they scored after half-time and then got that intercept, but the really pleasing thing was that we bounced back .”
“That’s something we haven’t done a good job of in past games, when things have gone against us. But we worked hard and swung the momentum our way.”
After shooting out to a 12-0 and then 18-6 lead, the Warriors found themselves fighting off a staunch Bulldogs fightback that saw the scores level at 18-all just after the interval.
“There’s obviously things we need to improve on,” Harris added. “But really for most of the game we had a good attitude [and] worked hard for each other.
“The most pleasing thing was being up by 12 points and they scored two tries, but we got ourselves back in the game and got ourselves some momentum.”
Interim coach Stacey Jones praised his side’s fortitude, especially after conceding a length of the field intercept try to Bulldogs winger Josh Addo-Carr.
“Things didn’t go our way and we’ve often gone into a hole, but tonight we went the other way. They scored two tries after half-time but the boys stuck to a gameplan that works when you get into an arm- wrestle.”
“It certainly was a relief, especially after last weekend. It was a tough week (leading in). Today’s performance was off the back of playing in front of our families and a big crowd. I didn’t see this coming off the back of last week’s big loss.”
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