The Kiwi sporting conundrum: to tune in to the wild Warriors or awesome All Blacks? video


The All Blacks at work in a gym session in Nelson ahead of their test against Argentina on Saturday night.

OPINION: If it’s pure sporting theatre you’re looking for, the unpredictable Warriors might just trump the mighty All Blacks in their tasty little telly tete-a-tete on Saturday night. 

Then again, why would you want to miss a second of rugby’s world champions in the mood they’re in right now on the back of an exhilarating Bledisloe sweep of the wobbling Wallabies and a test win streak that’s up to eight?

New Zealand’s sporting allegiance is set for an intriguing test as the two footballing codes go head to head in a scheduling quirk that should see the nation’s remote controls getting a thorough workout from around 7.40pm on Saturday evening.

Warriors or All Blacks? It's a tough sporting choice for the armchair viewers this weekend.


Warriors or All Blacks? It’s a tough sporting choice for the armchair viewers this weekend.

Here’s the scenario: Steve Hansen’s All Blacks will look to extend their 14-test Rugby Championship win streak at 7.35pm when they host Argentina in an historic matchup at Nelson’s Trafalgar Park; and just five minutes later, at 7.40pm, the Warriors will run out at at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium to take on the Penrith Panthers in an NRL finals clash that has excitement written all over it.

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So, who ya got? The Warriors or the All Blacks? League or union? The rollercoaster ride that is 80 minutes with the men from Mount Smart or the unerring excellence that is the hallmark of the best rugby team on the planet?

It’s an intriguing subplot to a tasty television faceoff that asks Kiwi sporting fans that most important of questions: who loves who the most? 

Is it Shaun Johnson, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, David Fusitua and the great entertainers from Penrose launching their NRL playoff push against a Panthers side with similar strikepower but also a hint of vulnerability?

Or is it Kieran Read, Brodie Retallick and whoever else Hansen decides to send out to battle the Pumas seeking to continue their relentless march to another Rugby Championship title?

Of course, modern technology means the disciplined types can have the best of both worlds. They can watch one live and record the other to be viewed as the second half of a delayed double-header. Makes sense if you can stay away from social media and spoiling texts from acquaintances.

Or if you head to the right sort of establishment you could always indulge in a sort of simultaneous sporting sensory overload and take in both matches at once, flitting eyes between duelling screens as the drama plays out.

But if either of the above is not your cup of tea, and your Saturday prime time viewing allows for only one sporting event, then it’s an interesting call. The national sport or the national obsession?

Luxuriating in more inevitable All Blacks dominance or riding the emotional rollercoaster that is following the Warriors in what might be the most wide open NRL finals in a long, long time?

Frankly, it’s hard not to see the Warriors as your most likely source of entertainment, not to mention a decent old sporting contest.

The All Blacks taking on Argentina is not exactly full of suspense and intrigue. Hansen will likely give a handful of backup men a chance to further their cause – and if Richie Mou’unga plays that brings its own interest – but their undefeated record against the Pumas is in no sort of threat of being snapped.

And these contests in years previous have not exactly thrown up instant classics. The Pumas tend to suspend their ambition in New Zealand in preference for a respectable scoreline; and, more often than not, the All Blacks lack their usual fluency with their scratch lineup.

The last six matchups in New Zealand have seen the All Blacks win, respectively, 39-22, 57-22, 39-18, 28-9, 28-13 and 21-5. Respectable, but hardly memorable.

On the other hand it’s impossible to predict what might play out in the Warriors v Panthers matchup. Both sides have a ton of firepower, play with an attacking attitude and are not going to die wondering with so much to play for.

If high stakes are your thing, it’s hard not to see that a sudden-death, first-round finals matchup for the Warriors doesn’t have a lot more going for it than a run-of-the-mill All Blacks victory over an outmatched opponent whom they’ve never lost to in their history.

If you have a choice to make at 7.40 on Saturday night, you could do a lot worse than take the unpredictable ride that is the Warriors at NRL finals time. On their first appearance there in seven years.

You might end up disappointed and cursing another year where they flattered only to deceive. But you might not. And that might just be a chance worth taking.

 – Stuff