17 Apr 2020

Sports Minister places doubt on NRL plans

4:55 pm on 17 April 2020

Sports Minister Grant Robertson says plans to resume the NRL late next month and have the New Zealand Warriors involved seem "ambitious".

Finance Minister Grant Robertson

Finance Minister Grant Robertson Photo: Pool / NZME

The NRL were pushing hard to get their competition back up and running, naming May 28 as a target date for restarting matches in Australia.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Friday the NRL were consulting the Australian government about the Warriors arriving in Australia on May 3.

But Robertson said he hadn't been involved in any discussions, adding quarantine rules in both countries created obstacles.

"That sounds like a very ambitious date to me to start a competition up and no doubt there is a lot to work through on both sides of the Tasman about how that would work.

"Clearly both sides of the Tasman are operating strict quarantine arrangements at the moment and therefore that provides some real limitations on the ability of people to travel and spend time in situ.

"I did hear yesterday that the other NRL clubs had said they wanted to make sure the Warriors had the opportunity to undertake pre-season training once they go to Australia if that is where they go to, so if you think about that in terms of timeline it's pretty ambitious.

Meanwhile Robertson confirmed sport still wouldn't be possible in New Zealand at alert level three.

The Government will confirm on Monday if the country will move out of the level four lockdown on Thursday.

Even if that did happen, though, Robertson said there wouldn't be scope for sport to return.

"At level three we want people to stay in their bubbles still. I know a number of our professional athletes are training hard inside their own bubble.

"When it comes to level two there is further work to do there as to what might be possible in terms of particularly contact sport at a professional level. That requires conversations with health officials and with sports clubs.

"Clearly myself as a sports fan and many others around the country would love to see that take place but that certainly won't be happening at level three."