15 Mar 2020

NRL to go on, Warriors stay in Australia

5:29 pm on 15 March 2020

The NRL will continue with Warriors confirming they'll remain in Australia this week following the new travel restrictions imposed by the New Zealand Government due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck reacts to a bunker decision.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck reacts to a bunker decision. Photo: Photosport

Players and staff were scheduled to arrive home this afternoon after last night's 20-0 opening-round loss to the Knights in Newcastle.

They would have returned in time to avoid the compulsory two-week self-isolation period which comes into effect from midnight for all people arriving in New Zealand.

But with games unable to be played in New Zealand, that would have effectively removed them from the competition.

Chief executive Cameron George says the team will be based on the Gold Coast and will play their second round match against Canberra, which was supposed to be at Eden Park, at Robina Stadium.

ARL commission chairman Peter V'landys and NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg fronted a press conference today, with V'landys saying round two will go ahead in empty stadiums, with the situation being reassessed afterwards.

"Any decision we make today may change tomorrow," he said.

"This situation is fluid and is changing by the hour. All the decisions we will make will have the safety and the health of our players as the paramount consideration.

"We're leaving every option available to us on the table. We are going to review all options, including isolating players and suspending the season."

V'landys and Greenburg both paid tribute to the Warriors, and their decision to remain in Australia this week while the NRL assesses its options.

Greenburg thanked the Warriors for staying on.

"This is a very difficult time for them. Their players are now facing an unplanned stretch away from their families, and that's something that's certainly not lost on any of us," Greenburg said.

"It's a significant sacrifice that they're making, and we thank the Warriors for their cop-operation and support."

Warriors chief executive Cameron George says with games unable to be played in New Zealand, that would have ended their season.

"With the travelling restrictions coming into place, returning to New Zealand would effectively remove us from the competition," said George, who is flying back to Auckland today.

"We had extensive meetings with Todd Greenberg, the Rugby League Players' Association and our players and staff until late last night to consider all our options.

"There is a lot of take into account, not least the impact on families back home as well as our members, fans, sponsors and other stakeholders.

AAP have reported that Warriors players Peta Hiku and Patrick Herbert have returned home to New Zealand for family reasons.