NRL season in jeopardy as Warriors look to home
THE future of this year NRL's competition is in serious jeopardy after the Warriors rejected a proposal from chief executive Todd Greenberg to stay in Australia for 16 days.
The Warriors baulked at Greenberg's plan for the New Zealand-based outfit to remain in Australia to play two consecutive games against Canberra this Saturday and Manly on Friday week.
Addressing the Warriors at their Sydney hotel on Saturday night amid the coronavirus pandemic, it is understood Greenberg asked players to stay in Australia for 16 days.
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The playing group held a vote before rejecting the proposal, instead agreeing to stay for seven days, prompting the NRL to move the Warriors to Kingscliff on the NSW north-coast.
Their Round 2 home clash against the Raiders at Auckland's Eden Park has been shifted to Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast.
But beyond this Saturday, the Warriors may return home.
While Greenberg has commended the Warriors for backing the NRL's plan to play on amid the coronavirus saga, the reality is the playing group has serious concerns about remaining in Australia for an extended period of time.
Should the Warriors return home after the Raiders clash, it will throw the NRL competition into meltdown with the prospect of a 15-team league - and that's if the competition can even proceed beyond round two amid concerns the COVID-19 outbreak could infect a player.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced what she termed the "toughest rules in the world" on coronavirus, with all travellers, except those coming from the Pacific Islands, having to self-isolate for 14 days on their arrival to the country.
That means the Warriors must stay in Australia, potentially for months, for the NRL competition to continue.
Warriors CEO Cameron George returned to New Zealand today and told local media the entire playing group may fly home after the Canberra game.
If that happens, the Warriors could withdraw from this year's NRL competition.
"It's a reality and it's on the table that we get though this weekend, we've got to make a decision with the players," George told New Zealand media.
"What do we do? Do we continue to live this week by week scenario?
"We gave the players the option. If you want to come home, you can. That could change during the course of the week, players might want to come home during the week.
"The reality is that they'll stick it out for seven days and there's a massive decision to make one way or another."
George said players were close to tears breaking news to their partners that they might remain in Australia.
"I give a lot of credit to our playing group and their resilience around these challenging times," George said.
"I think it will get to a point where are multiple players (catching coronavirus) and to protect everyone they'll have to cease the competition.
"Whether that's for a suspended period or the competition is cancelled for 2020.
"If one club gets it, naturally another clubs going to possibly be exposed to that."