Prime Minister shuts down NRL claims about Warriors clearance

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor
Scott Morrison talks to the media at a press conference in Canberra. (Photo by Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)

The Prime Minister has refuted claims from the NRL that the New Zealand warriors have been cleared to fly into Australia.

Nine News on Friday reported that the Warriors will be allowed to fly into Tamworth airport and base themselves in the regional NSW town.

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Tamworth airport is normally ‘domestic only’ but will be temporarily changed to an ‘international’ airport for the flight.

“A private charter that the Warriors have booked to come out of Auckland and to arrive in Tamworth on Sunday afternoon at 4pm,” Channel Nine’s Neil Breen said on Friday.

“There will be 40 passengers on board that plane. They'll be processed through customs, then the restrictions are they must quarantine for 14 days before they can play.”

ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys declared the Warriors are committed to travelling to Australia to prepare for the resumption of the NRL season.

V'landys spoke with Warriors players on Friday morning, amid fears of a player revolt as they unified in a quest to address concerns about relocating.

The meeting cleared up several questions nagging the Warriors and the squad is preparing to cross the Tasman and set up a base in Tamworth.

However, as of Friday afternoon Australian Border Force authorities had yet to give the green light for the Warriors to arrive.

“And no amount of reporting it will change that decision,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“That will be made on the basis of the border assessments of the Australian Border Force and they're working through that application.”

Mr Morrison also denied that the NRL had been given clearance to resume its season on May 28, as league officials have consistently stated.

“The National Cabinet has not provided that endorsement (on May 28),” the Prime Minister confirmed.

“The individual jurisdictions will ultimately provide any of the clearances that are necessary on a health basis.”

Warriors players leave the field after their round 2 loss. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

The NSW state government have also yet to grant exemption for the Warriors to train as a group while they spend two weeks in quarantine.

But league officials still remain confident those exemptions will be secured in time for the Warriors to be in the country by next week.

“The Warriors just wanted clarity on a few things and now they have got that they are fully supportive,” ARL boss V'landys told AAP.

Premier says Queensland clubs can train at home

In the most significant development for the NRL this week, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed borders would be open for the state's three NRL teams to play in NSW.

That means North Queensland, Brisbane and the Gold Coast will not need to enter isolation camps in Sydney and can remain at home with their families.

“I said I was as keen as anyone else to see the NRL return and I meant it,” Palaszczuk said.

“The only condition was that it did not put our excellent work containing the spread of COVID-19 at risk and the chief health officer advises that the NRL plan is workable.”

Palaszczuk's vote of confidence on a phone hook up with NRL and Queensland club heavyweights came on a busy day for ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys.

On Monday the biosecurity guidelines will be explained to all NRL players, and providing they are satisfied a return to training will be confirmed.

The Warriors players, like their NRL rivals, will receive 80 per cent of their original annual salary for the duration of the season.

Families of Warriors players will remain in New Zealand for now, although the league is hopeful border restrictions will eventually ease.

A federal government framework for the return of sport announced on Friday also kept the NRL's hopes for a return alive, providing it can convince state governments it will adhere to health guidelines.

The NRL have maintained their biosecurity measures will be the benchmark for all sports, and have previously had the NSW Government approve their return if they provide a safe workplace.

“We're down to 100 in the lift off countdown for Project Apollo,” V'landys quipped.

“We'll be at 50 tomorrow.”

with AAP