'Huge respect': NRL world erupts over Warriors' 'unbelievable sacrifice'

Riley Morgan
Sports Reporter

The Warriors have made an incredible sacrifice following Australia’s new border laws after committing to remaining in Australia and playing for as long as the competition keeps running.

Warriors players met on Thursday night and again on Friday morning at their new Kingscliff base, faced with the prospect of staying away from their families indefinitely.

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Australia's new border laws now prevent non-citizens and residents from entering the country during the coronavirus from Friday night, effectively locking out numerous families.

Warriors officials believed that could spell the end of the players' time in Australia, given the original plan allowed families to join them in coming weeks.

Warriors during the round 1 NRL match between the Newcastle Knights and the New Zealand Warriors at McDonald Jones Stadium on March 14, 2020 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

But while some were in tears in last week's meeting after agreeing to stay, the players have now told CEO Cameron George they are in for the long haul.

"We're in, we're committed," George said.

"It's game on for us now. We've had the decision made as a collective. To do it for our sponsors and our fans, we're locked in.

"However long the competition stays around for (we're in), who knows. It could be six months, it could be one week."

NRL players, teams and fans jumped at the opportunity to praise their amazing sacrifice to potentially be away from their families for a long period of time.

It means the Warriors' clash with Canberra on the Gold Coast will go ahead as planned, before they meet Manly at Lottoland next Friday night.

NRL relieved after Warriors commitment

The news will come as a huge relief to the NRL.

While they had contingencies in place to play without the Warriors, they will now still be able to fulfil their eight games per week as outlined in broadcast agreements.

The decision could also give them a small amount of flexibility should a player or staff member from any team tests positive to the virus.

"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 going to stand tall and be leaders and take it on.

"If we walked away from what's before us I think it would have started to break up the competition and there would have been some dramas."

The Warriors flew four injured players over on Wednesday night for back up, as well as extra staff.

It's also believed Patrick Herbert was returning to Australia on Friday before the 9pm lockout, with he and the players from their rehab squad free to leave self-isolation for round four.

Centre Peta Hiku remains in New Zealand as he awaits the birth of his child and it is unclear if he will meet requirements to travel to Australia.

The club has also borrowed balls and training gear from local clubs on the Gold Coast and in northern NSW, as they tackle the logistical headache of continuing their season.

With AAP