Warriors commit to seeing out NRL season
Blake Green of the Warriors knocks fists with fans after the Round One NRL match between Newcastle Knights and New Zealand Warriors at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle, Saturday, March 14, 2020. (AAP Image/Darren Pateman)
Warriors have committed to staying in the NRL in the face of coronavirus pandemic and new closed-border laws that threaten to lock out their families.
Chief executive Cameron George told journalists in Auckland that the players had decided to stay beyond this Saturday's game against Canberra on the Gold Coast, despite the disruption it was causing to their lives.
"The entire squad is locked in and ready to go," George said.
"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."
Players risk being stuck away from their families indefinitely after the Australian government locked all non-citizens or residents out of the country in response to coronavirus.
While there had been plans to fly families from New Zealand and serve a 14-day isolation period, that has now been thrown into doubt by the new rules.
The Warriors are in camp in Kingscliff, having initially thought they were only leaving New Zealand for the weekend when they travelled to play Newcastle last week.
"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," George said.
"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 New Zealand government enforced a 14-day isolation period for overseas passengers last Saturday, ending any hope of NRL games being played there during the virus.
Players were left in tears during a Saturday night meeting with NRL boss Todd Greenberg, where they agreed to remain in Australia to help the competition.
But players at that point largely believed they could have their families by their side, before Australia also enacted a 14-day isolation period and the latest arrivals ban.
The NRL has previously stated they could continue the competition with 15 teams, however it would likely take a rejig of bye rounds and an effort to make matches back up.
The league have had a number of back-up plans on the table, with numerous discussed at an ARLC board meeting on Thursday.
© AAP 2020