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Ryan Hoffman’s love match

His home team is right behind him
Ryan Hoffman, Warriors

Ryan Hoffman has a confession to make. Despite his exciting new gig heading up the New Zealand Warriors, there’s a small part of him that will always remain permanently linked – and inked – to his former league team, the Melbourne Storm.

“I have a Storm tattoo on my butt,” grins the 1.92m Aussie, who took over from former skipper Simon Mannering in February. The 32-year-old got the tattoo at a house party after the team had won the 2007 grand final, when one of the boys got his tattoo artist to make a house call.

“I got my backside tattooed with a Melbourne Storm emblem on the kitchen table!” Ryan reveals.

“Tell them why it’s on your butt,” laughs his wife Mel, 33, as the pair and their adorable offspring, toddler Zachary, nearly three, and Mia (now seven months old), pose for Woman’s Day at their beachside Auckland home.

Ryan in action on the field.

“So Mum can’t see it,” Ryan confesses sheepishly. “She knows I’ve got it, but she’d kill me if it was visible! Even I forget I’ve got it half the time.”

Two weeks after the Canberra-born sportsman arrived in Auckland at the end of 2014, Mel, Zach and their beloved bulldog Cosby followed – and that very week, Mia was conceived. “I was really missing Mel,” laughs Ryan as he cradles the tot between photos. Mia was born on October 8 last year, at Auckland City Hospital, and Ryan and Mel say they’re proud to have “a Kiwi baby” in the family.

Since crossing the ditch, Ryan has formed a close camaraderie with several Warriors players, much to Mel’s amusement. She grins, “The whole bromance thing is just a mystery to me. I don’t even try to understand, so us girls have just formed our own gang.”

Ryan and Mel tied the knot at Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens in 2010.

Mel is refreshingly candid about her lack of interest in league, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t had a major impact on her life. A huge fan of The Office and funnywoman Tina Fey, the media studies graduate reckons she has accumulated plenty of dynamite material over the past 13 years and is busy writing a sitcom about the life of a league wife.

The pair, who have been going strong for 13 years, wed in an intimate ceremony in 2010 in Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens.

“Mel’s greatest strength is that she throws herself into everything,” says Ryan of his “very intelligent” wife. And Mel tells how he won her over with a “quaint courtship” built on love, trust and a desire for kids.

Ryan with his adorable kids Zach (almost three) and Mia (7 months).

Since relocating here, the Hoffmans have missed friends and family, but they love their new life, including quality time at home in their beachside pad, as well as trips to Waiheke Island and the Coromandel.

“It was extremely hard to leave the Storm, but I’d experienced everything I could. Sometimes you just have to move for a new challenge,” Ryan says.

Despite a shaky start to the season and now six players, including Konrad Hurrell and Manu Vatuvei, being stood down over the misuse of prescription drugs, he’s loving his time with the Warriors.

“It’s been a tough time for the team and our fans, but we are firmly focused on the future. We are training hard because we know we can do really good things.”

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