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Brendan Walsh, from Turua, was named one of the New Zealand Warriors’ biggest fans. Photo: KELLEY TANTAU

League fan ‘blown away’ by support

By day, Brendan Walsh is a rugby league fan. By night, he transforms into the Rocker Warrior, seen among the stadium crowd wearing distinguishable face paint, a wild wig, and his trademark pukana.
His efforts to support his rugby league team over the past ten years led him to be named one of the finalists in the One NZ competition to find the New Zealand Warriors’ biggest fan.
“I am what I am,” he told The Profile. “I’m doing this because I love the Warriors, and it’s my passion, my hobby, and I enjoy painting my face and going to the games.”
Brendan’s support for the squad is obvious.
There are Warriors flags at his entranceway and signs and merch hanging up in his garage. Not to mention, there’s a giant Warriors poster tacked to an exterior wall that can be seen by passing motorists.
He even wants to take it a step further and get his garage roof painted in supportive insignia.
“Everyone knows where the Warriors house is,” he said. “We get people beeping and yelling out to us. People even stop and drop flags in our letterbox.”
Brendan, from Turua, was involved with the Mt Wellington Warriors Rugby League Football Club in Auckland for many years.
His son played from Under 12s to Under 20s and Brendan was the manager of the team during that time. He was also a committee member and former player, too. But it wasn’t until 2013 when he became a Warriors season ticket holder, and the persona of the Rocker Warrior was brought to life.
“I’ve always painted my face for every home game I’d go to. If it rained, I got wet. It was just one of those things,” he said.
It normally takes an hour for Brendan to transform into the Rocker Warrior. His sponsor, Body FX in Auckland, are responsible for the metamorphosis, complete only when contact lenses are inserted and a wild wig is put on.
Brendan said since the One NZ biggest fan competition kicked off, his distinctive look had been getting more recognition. His daughter and fellow Warriors fan Machayla was in charge of Rocker’s social media.
“I’ve been blown away by how many people have come up to me and have asked for a photo,” he said.
Despite not claiming the top prize in the competition – in which winners received two return tickets to any NRL Warriors game in Australia in 2024, as well as a free phone and data from One NZ – one of the attributes that continues to make Brendan a biggest fan contender is his unwavering support.
Even through the squad’s low points, he remained loyal.
“Because I was involved with the league club, I know you have your highs and your lows,” he said.
“My son’s team took until they were in the Under 14s before they won a championship. But the longer you wait, the harder you work.
“And [what the competition] has brought about is more people knowing what I do, and I do it for the passion.”