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New Zealand Warriors To Start 2021 NRL Season In NSW

T
he New Zealand Warriors are set to relocate to a New South Wales (NSW) base for at least the first three months of 2021 in order to start the 2021 NRL season.

The decision has been made after the NRL said it was confident a trans-Tasman travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand would make it possible for the Auckland-based club to start its season in New Zealand.

The Warriors squad will now spend at least the first four rounds of the 2021 NRL season in Australia, with their base to be split between Tamworth and Terrigal, something Warriors CEO, Cameron George, said gives the players, staff and families clarity for the start of the season.

“It’s not what we want to do but it’s what we have to do,” George said.

“Our priority is to ensure we do all we can to enable our team to be as well prepared as it can be for 2021.

“It’s a football decision that needs to be made now.

“We can’t afford to speculate about what might or might not happen any longer.

“We need clarity for our players, staff and families.

“We tried to arrange a quarantine facility like other sporting bodies have done to bring our players from Australia to train here as a squad, but our request was declined so we’ve had to adapt.

“We’ll keep abreast of the border situation and in early March will decide with the NRL what the best course of action is after the first four rounds, hopefully returning to New Zealand to play at Mount Smart for the first time since 2019 in round five,” he said.

NRL CEO, Andrew Abdo, thanked the Warriors for their sacrifices for the second year in a row to ensure the NRL season could run as smoothly as possible.

“The Warriors are a special club to all of us,” Abdo said.

“They have again put the competition ahead of their own personal interests.

“Their sacrifices cannot be overstated; on behalf of the Australian Rugby League Commission and the game I want to thank the players and staff for what they are doing for the competition.

“The Warriors were one of the great stories of the 2020 season, almost making the semi-finals after becoming the first team in the world to relocate to a different country for a season.

“I know the club has been very much been adopted by both the Central Coast and Tamworth communities.

“We remain committed to the Warriors playing the majority of their season in New Zealand and recent news regarding a vaccine and a near zero infection rate in Australia is very positive.

“The decision of the club and the playing group provides them with some certainty.

“Currently some of the squad is located in Australia and some in New Zealand.

“The most effective way for the squad to become one is in Australia.

“It also provides the Warriors with the best chance to prepare for the season ahead,” he said.

Despite the decision, the NRL reiterated that it is working with the Australian and New Zealand Governments to implement a trans-Tasman travel bubble and is confident the Warriors will be based in New Zealand for the majority of the 2021 season.