Vodafone Warriors given green light to fly to Australia for NRL restart

Publish Date
Friday, 1 May 2020, 3:22PM
Getty Images

Getty Images

The Australian national cabinet has given the green light for Tamworth - a city northeast of New South Wales - to open its airport so the Warriors can fly over from New Zealand to take part in the NRL season.

Key decision-makers within the Australian federal government are meeting today to discuss a range of issues that will have ramifications for sports across Australia and have allowed the Warriors to enter the country on Sunday.

Tamworth airport is normally a domestic-only airport but Nine reports it will become an international airport for one flight as 40 Warriors players and staff plan to take a charter plane to the northern NSW city.

The Warriors will need to quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Australia, per the strict isolation measures in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

However, NRL players are yet to confirm they will return to training on Monday, which was part of the agreed timeline for a season restart on May 28.

Yesterday it was revealed several senior Warriors players spoke up about not flying to Australia until they had assurances from the NRL about wages and other specifics pertaining to their travel.

The Warriors still hope to leave for Australia this Sunday, despite needing some final answers to key questions.

As reported by the Herald on Wednesday, one of the main issues was the players' remuneration, as the club wasn't prepared to relocate the squad for potentially five months, without knowing what their full employment conditions would be.

The Warriors' squad has since been provided with a baseline figure, along with the rest of the teams in the competition.

However negotiations are ongoing, between the Rugby League Players Association and the NRL, after the Sydney Morning Herald reported on Thursday that the players might have to take a 50 per cent pay cut for the final five months of the season (June to October) due to the expected drop in broadcast revenue.

The Warriors are also waiting on their approval to be able to train while in the 14-day quarantine period after they arrive in Australia, while it's believed the RLPA has also mooted that players from clubs that need to relocate (the Warriors, as well as potentially the three Queensland teams and the Melbourne Storm) should be given five days notice, which would mean a departure in the middle of next week. That detail has yet to be confirmed.

Everything will hinge on the ongoing negotiations between the RLPA and the NRL over salary levels.

However, Warriors chief executive Cameron George is remaining optimistic. He said the club had sent gear to Australia on Thursday, and were still working towards a weekend departure.

"There are a lot of things to work out but hopefully we'll get there," said George.

"Everyone is working really hard behind the scenes and we have to be positive. We are waiting on a few more answers and hopefully they will come soon, but it's hard to predict."

The NRL announced on Tuesday they would run a 20-round competition in 2020, with an 18-week season to commence on May 28, after the earlier suspension following round two in mid-March due to the Covid-19 outbreak.