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Warriors to stay in Australia for remainder of NRL season

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20th May, 2021
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The Warriors have announced they will remain in Australia for the rest of the NRL season and not return to New Zealand on June 21 as planned.

The Warriors will ramp up talks with rival NRL clubs to take a home game back to New Zealand for the first time in almost two years after confirming they will spend the rest of the 2021 season in Australia.

Warriors CEO Cameron George said on Friday it was simply too risky to return to their Auckland base as planned from June 21 with the border between the two countries able to be closed within a minute.

The club expected to play five home games at the end of the season at Mt Smart Stadium, but now they’re hopeful of hosting just one for fans to farewell skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

George has had initial discussions with clubs to gauge their interest in travelling to Auckland instead of Central Coast for a game, with talks to increase over the next week.

The Warriors have home games against St George Illawarra, Penrith, Cronulla, Canterbury and Canberra from June 21 onwards, all of which are possibilities to be played in Auckland.

However, the timing would need to be right for the away team to add another day of travel to their training schedule to get to and from Auckland.

“I’ll look into that next week, but so far people have been very supportive of our situation and everyone wants to help,” George said.

With Tuivasa-Sheck making the switch to rugby union at the end of the season the Warriors want to give home fans a chance to see him play live one last time.

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“It would be huge,” George said.

“He’s such a tremendous leader and a great partner in our club.

“It would be a tremendous opportunity if we could get back there to play a game for the fans and for the club.”

The Warriors haven’t played a game there since the end of 2019, meaning should they return at any point this season almost two years will have passed since they played in from of a home crowd.

The Warriors squad is currently based on the Central Coast with their children enrolled in local schools, and the club wants to give as much stability as possible to their families.

It will be a financial hit to the club to continue to play out of Central Coast Stadium, but it’s the only way to avoid the volatility of potential border closures and the knock on impact on the season.

Recently travel between New Zealand and NSW was stopped after two confirmed cases in Sydney, which, if the Warriors were travelling between both countries, could have caused a game to be postponed.

The uncertainty is also likely to leak into next season as long as the Trans-Tasman bubble is able to be paused on short notice, as it’s designed to do.

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The club intends to play as normal out of Auckland next year but want to be confident the borders won’t shut within minutes of an outbreak.

© AAP

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