Warriors' big call with families stuck out

Scott Bailey and Pamela Whaley
The Warriors will remain in Australia to avoid facing self-isolation on their return to New Zealand

Warriors boss Cameron George admits his team will decide again next week if they want to stay in the NRL season with families now effectively locked out of Australia.

The Warriors have gone into camp in Kingscliff with a view to host Canberra on the Gold Coast next Sunday, after the New Zealand government implemented a 14-day isolation policy for overseas travellers.

However similar rules put in place by the Australian government to stem the spread of the coronavirus on Sunday have thrown another spanner in the works for the NRL.

Players Peta Hiku and Patrick Herbert have however returned home to New Zealand for family reasons, and the Warriors have left some reserve graders in Australia for cover.

But the new self-isolation policy means no more players will be able to be flown across in the case of further injuries.

The NRL had also planned to fly families across for players, but that and the arrival of further club staff is now also off the cards given none are booked in for travel on Sunday.

"We'll make some big decisions at the end of the week, and it will be based on family and player outcomes," George said.

"There was a lot of devastated players there yesterday, grown men with tears in their eyes because it is really a difficult period to endure.

"It's a reality (not being able to play in the competition). It's on the table, we get through this weekend and we've got to make a decision with the players.

"Do we continue to do this week-by-week scenario? Or if the players want to choose to come home they come home.

"That could change during the week; some of the players could want to come home during the week."

The Warriors are due to face Manly on Friday March 27 at Lottloland.

Warriors veteran Adam Blair's wife Jess voiced her concerns over players staying in Australia on social media on Saturday.

Hiku's wife is heavily pregnant and expecting a child next Friday, while Herbert has a young baby, prompting their calls to come home.

"I have a family and that is something I have to put first," Hiku said.

"My partner was telling me to stay. But everything is changing day by day. We didn't want anything to happen where flights were cancelled."

George conceded on Sunday it was unlikely his club would host a game in New Zealand this year.

ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys also admitted the squad couldn't stay in Australia for the whole year.

Speaking before the Australian government's announcement, V'landys hoped the New Zealand government could change its policy which is next up for review on March 30.

The NRL has meanwhile made contact with Warriors' apparel supplier Canterbury for more gear, given they only brought enough clothes over for Saturday's loss to Newcastle.

Players will also be paid an allowance by the NRL while they stay abroad.

Meanwhile the Australian government's new exclusion policy all but rules the Warriors' reserve grade and junior teams out of NSW Rugby League competitions.

NSWRL boss Dave Trodden was on Sunday in Fiji, trying to fly back home before the midnight deadline for the self-isolation policy.