Warriors hit first major hurdle before flight to Tamworth

Nathaniel Roache of the Warriors wasn't able to fly to Tamworth because he was feeling ill. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Warriors hooker Nathaniel Roache has become the first player to fall foul of the NRL's strict bio-security protocols, bumped from the club's flight to Australia after he reported feeling ill.

Roache and outside back David Fusitu'a weren't on board the Warriors' chartered flight that left Auckland on Sunday afternoon bound their quarantine base at Tamworth, where they will begin a stay of up to six months in Australia.

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Fusitu'a requested a one-week delay to his departure for personal reasons while Roache woke suffering from cold-like symptoms and could not be cleared to fly under the team's Covid-19 protocols.

Club chief executive Cameron George said Roache was ordered to stay home after contacting medical staff.

"Nate called the club first thing this morning saying he wasn't feeling well," George said in a statement.

"He was instructed to have a test immediately and was told not to report at the airport as he would not be travelling with the team.

"We're totally satisfied Nate has had no contact with any other player or staff member at the club for several weeks and we're very comfortable we have abided by all policies and requirements.

"David has stayed behind for a personal matter and will fly to Tamworth as soon as possible."

Gutting outcome for Roache

It is unclear how or when Roache and Fusitu'a will cross the Tasman, with Sunday's charter flight having been organised by the club in expectation of an Australian Border Force travel exemption, which they received on Saturday morning.

It is a gutting outcome for 24-year-old Roache, whose career has been dogged by injury, having played just 26 first grade games since a 2016 debut.

The Warriors are expecting to have their roster fully stretched during their stay, particularly once they relocate to a Central Coast base after undergoing two weeks of quarantine.

They can apply for a replacement if any player needs to return home prematurely.

"The squad we're taking across is the intended squad that we play with for the duration of the season," George said.

"But if things change for personal reasons for individuals, on a case-by-case basis we can make application to the NRL, particularly on compassionate grounds.

"The NRL have been really good in that regard and ... they're prepared to at least look at an application from our club, which is a good assurance for us."

While Australian NRL players have at least been able to train in groups of two, the Warriors have endured a complete lockdown.

"When they get into camp next week (staff) can physically see them and look at them, see how they're running," George said.

"It's been a really challenging few weeks so to get that (border force) notification only 24 hours before we were due to depart was a big relief for our club and players.

"They're very excited about what lies ahead."