Warriors games in Auckland still possible

Daniel Gilhooly
The Warriors are in Australia but there's speculation they could yet play some home games in NZ

The prospect of Auckland hosting NRL games this season isn't going away with New Zealand's deputy prime minister saying the Warriors' passage to Tamworth is another step towards a "trans-Tasman bubble".

Winston Peters, who is also the country's foreign minister, congratulated the Kiwi club and the NRL for their initiative and sacrifice toward getting the competition restarted on May 28.

He also thanked the Australian government for opening its border to the Warriors, believing it is a forerunner to closer travel ties between two countries recording relatively low COVID-19 case numbers.

The concept gathered further momentum when Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison invited his Kiwi counterpart Jacinda Ardern to join Tuesday's national cabinet discussion, where the easing of restrictions is expected to be raised.

Morrison has suggested that when international travel restrictions are eventually lifted the links with New Zealand will be the first re-established.

Last week Peters said the travel relationship would only be viable if it doesn't require a 14-day quarantine period at either end, something the Warriors have begun in Tamworth.

"The Warriors' participation in the NRL in Australia shows that a trans-Tasman bubble could work seriously well," Peters said in a statement.

"Australia and New Zealand are two of the most integrated economies in the world.

"The idea of a bubble with Australia was floated two weeks ago, and this is an example of the sort of action that could happen within it, while always ensuring the protection of public health."

Warriors chief executive Cameron George hasn't given up on the club staging home games this season, which is scheduled to finish in late October.

"If you asked me two weeks ago, I would have said no but it's shifted so dramatically in the space of two weeks, who knows what it's going to look like in a month's time," George told Sky Sports Radio on Monday.

"If Australia-New Zealand restrictions get relaxed to a point that enables us to come home, there's a big possibility of that happening.

"But we've focused on being there for the duration. That's our mindset."