Coronavirus: NZ Warriors committed to staying in Australia, says owner Mark Robinson

NZ Warriors are prepared to stay in Australia to ensure they remain part of the NRL, says owner Mark Robinson.

After their loss to the Knights in Newcastle last weekend, they chose not to return to New Zealand to avoid entering the 14-day self-isolation and allow the competition to continue unhindered.

The club said it would make a decision whether in Australia to play the rest of their schedule after this weekend's match against the Raiders, relocated to the Gold Coast.

But according to Robinson, the club is braced to stay long term.

"Going forward, they are happy to play as long as the competition is running," Robinson told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"The boys are pretty happy to stay. We will do everything we have to do to honour our agreement with the NRL."

The squad are currently based in a Kingscliff resort, as they get ready to face the Canberra Raiders at a crowdless Cbus Super Stadium - the Gold Coast Titans' home ground - on Saturday. 

Warriors owner Mark Robinson.
Warriors owner Mark Robinson. Photo credit: Photosport

They're without key backs Patrick Herbert and Peta Hiku, who have both returned to New Zealand on compassionate grounds.

"I think we just do it," said Robinson. "It's like going on a six-week rugby league tour to England.

"I was having a yarn with them last night, telling them it could be worse. You could be in Italy, stuck in an apartment.

"They are in a resort here, they're training, they're happy.

"They had two go home - one just had a baby and one's expecting one - but the rest of them are happy to stay. It's good for their character."

On Tuesday, chief executive Cameron George revealed that the club had compiled a 'hit list' of fringe squad members from other NRL clubs to help bolster the squad, which is currently down to just 24 players.

"We kept about 6-7 young NSW Cup boys here and [the NRL] said we can put them in our roster," Robinson said.

"We might have about 26 or 27 here, that should get us through for a little while. If anyone gets injured, we can send them straight back.

"The Broncos have given us access to their feeder clubs and a few other clubs said the Warriors can use their players.

"There have been some Queensland clubs that have offered players, if some players want to go [home]. They will help us out, which I think is fair.

"It's not going to do much for our team, but at least we'll still be competitive and be in the competition."

If need be, Robinson said they'd be willing to rotate players in and out of the trans-Tasman quarantine protocols.

"If we have to stay next week, after this game, and it carries on, we'll have to send 5-6 players from New Zealand, quarantine them for two weeks and [use them] once they come out of quarantine.

"We might have to do rotations with the quarantine weeks as part of it, if the NRL is footing the bill for it.

warriors team
Photo credit: Newshub.

"We might have to stick them in a separate part of the hotel for two weeks and then bang.

"If we can get these guys tested before they leave New Zealand or have a testing facility here straight away, we can prove they haven't got the virus and they can come straight out, they don't have to do their two weeks.

"I've had a lot of obstacles that I have been through over the last 30 years, but we're pretty resilient." 

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