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NZ Warriors Tossing Up Between Auckland And Australia Base For 2021

T
he New Zealand Warriors have set up for pre-season training in two camps, one in Auckland and one in Australia, with the NRL club still uncertain where they will call home in 2021.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Auckland-based club played the entire 2020 NRL season in Australia but are now waiting a decision from the Australian and New Zealand governments on whether a trans-Tasman travel bubble will be in place in time.

Warriors CEO, Cameron George, said the club will likely make a decision next month whether they will relocate to Australia in early January for the rest of the pre-season and the start of the season.

“I learned a long time ago not to speculate, not to hope, just deal with what’s in play today, and as a result it will always put the players, their families and the club first,” George told Stuff.

“We need to prepare the best we can for the season and we’re going to have to make some significant calls in the days ahead.

“We’d love nothing more than to be at home, that’s our preferred option.

“But there will come a point where we have to be absolutely sensible in executing a plan that gives us the best chance to start the competition the best we can.

“So that will happen in the days ahead with consultation with the NRL, the players and so forth…

“Just where those home games are, that’s yet to be determined, however we’d love nothing more than to be at home with our fans and hopefully at some stage we can be,” he said, discussing the release of the NRL 2021 season draw.

Despite the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the potential trans-Tasman travel bubble, NRL CEO Andrew Abdo has remained confident the borders will be open in time for the start of the season in March, with the NRL scheduling the Warriors 11 home games in Auckland for 2021.

Abdo said if the borders aren’t opened in March for the start of the season, he is confident the Warriors will still be able to play home games in New Zealand at some point next year.

“At the moment, the borders are closed but we’re optimistic,” Abdo said.

“The infection rates are low.

“Most importantly the opportunity for us to think about borders opening and the Warriors being able to play at home, that’s what we’re planning for.

“At this stage, based on infection rates and the information available to us, we’re confident the borders will be open.

“If they’re not we’ll be ready for it and the Warriors will be ready for it,” he said.