Rough NRL comeback for unlucky Warrior

Pamela Whaley
Hooker Nathaniel Roache is looking forward to completing his comeback from injury at the Warriors

As if recovering from knee surgery isn't bad enough, Warriors hooker Nathaniel Roache was the unlucky one left in New Zealand while his teammates boarded a chartered flight bound for Tamworth.

When the NRL announced it was aiming to restart on May 28, the Warriors headed for northern NSW to isolate while he stayed behind with a cough which prompted a nasal swab.

After the COVID-19 results came back negative, only a 12-hour ordeal stood between the 24-year-old and his team - but it seems nothing comes easy for Roache.

Once in Sydney he was eventually cleared by the Australian government to isolate in Tamworth rather than a hotel for 14 days, he was told to hire a car and drive the six hours north.

Only you need a full license - and his is restricted.

The club was forced to organise for someone to collect him from Sydney airport and take him to Tamworth, and by the time he arrived with the squad 12 hours after he landed, he was 'knackered'.

Kindly, the team agreed to start over their 14-day isolation in Wests Tamworth Leagues to make sure he didn't have to go through it all alone.

"I was trying to tell them, if it was going to cause too much hassle I'll do the two weeks by myself because I didn't want to affect the team, I was already coming late," he said.

"They like it (in Tamworth). It's such a good place and the field is literally across the car park, the gym is pretty much like our gym back in New Zealand, so they didn't mind the extra few days to stay.

"It didn't make me feel that bad."

All of this, and he has no certain return date.

Roache is recovering from an ACL injury from July last year, as well as an ankle surgery he had four months after his knee operation.

The coronavirus shutdown has impacted his return date, which was due around July in 2020, and he's uncertain when he will get back on the field.

On Monday he completed his first full running and skills session after around nine months of surgeon visits, recovery and rest.

So when he's finally back on the field, he doesn't care who he plays, where or when.

"I just want a game, to be honest," he said.