Vodafone Warriors are set to STAY in the NRL competition

Publish Date
Friday, 20 March 2020, 10:19AM
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Getty Images

The Vodafone Warriors have committed to staying in the NRL amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The New Zealand NRL side is currently in a makeshift camp in Kingsliff in New South Wales, having made the call to base themselves in Australia to keep competing in the NRL following travel restrictions put in place in both Australia and New Zealand.

CEO Cameron George said it was a testing time but the group had decided to stay in the competition.

"The Entire squad is locked in and ready to go," said George. "They understand the issues that different individuals got on the table. But they're sticking together ... [The NRL] have called on us and we've stepped up to the task."

"If we were told to leave your family and live in another country for an indefinite period, not many would ... we're very proud of the players.

"The deciding factor was that it's our time to be leaders in the community and rugby league ... we're gonna stand tall and be leaders and take it on.

"The deciding factor was that it's our time to be leaders in the community and rugby league ... we're gonna stand tall and be leaders and take it on."

"These guys aren't falling away from the challenge ahead." Players had to borrow gear and adapt.

"Our players have been asked to relocate to another country β€” unplanned β€”and continue to play in the competition, away from their families. If that is the case, then we need to make sure they have everything that their normal lives provide them, as much as is possible."

That includes time with wives, partners and children, and George indicated that "a number" of families had indicated they would like to make the trip.

"But who pays, where do they go, where do they stay ... that all needs to be sorted out, in terms of logistics," said George.

Wives, partners and children would be required to be in isolation for 14 days on arrival in Australia, and wouldn't be able to stay near the team's Kingscliff base in northern NSW for that reason. After that fortnight, they could relocate to the same area.

Meanwhile, the Warriors say they are close to locking down some loan players, who could be added as early as next week.

There are 23 players in Australia at coach Stephen Kearney's disposal (four are on development contracts) with another four sent over on Wednesday, although they won't be available until early April (due to isolation requirements)

"There is certainly a chance it [loan players] could happen next week ... it's not unrealistic," Warriors recruitment boss Peter O'Sullivan told the Herald. "We need to re-calibrate after injuries and other things we can't foresee [this weekend]. We have some balls being juggled in the air and soon we will be clearer about what we need in the next few weeks and beyond."

O'Sullivan has spoken to most clubs β€” "apart from the ones who are in dire straits with injuries themselves" β€” and believes Wednesday's cancellation of the second tier state Cup competitions could also change the dynamic.

"If they can't play reserve grade, the best way to get a run could be giving them a couple of weeks with us," said O'Sullivan. "If players are coming back from injury, they might need a gallop."
Round two of the NRL was planned to go ahead this weekend.

-nzherald.co.nz