NRL 2020: Cameron George admits NZ Warriors face uncertain future with team stuck in Australia

NZ Warriors chief executive Cameron George says he's assessing all options, as his side face an uncertain future in the 2020 NRL season.

The majority of the first-grade team have chosen to remain in Australia after their opening-round loss to the Newcastle Knights on Saturday, in light of the 14-day mandatory self-quarantine period imposed on all visitors to New Zealand.

The decision to stay allows the NRL to continue as scheduled. The Warriors will play their round two match against the Canberra Raiders on the Gold Coast, rather than as part of an Eden Park double-header with Super Rugby's Blues - an event that's since been cancelled.

But how long the Warriors stay in Australia is unclear.

Players have reportedly agreed to remain in Australia for a further seven days, but rejected NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg's plea for them to remain in Australia until the end of the month, as the travel ban could be extended during that time. 

With so much uncertainty surrounding the sporting world due to the coronavirus, which has already seen most major sports leagues suspended, the NRL is determined to keep going as suspending play could have "catastrophic effects" on the game according to Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'landys. 

But the same applies to the Warriors. If they remain in Australia, they have to keep forking out money, while missing out on revenue from staging games at Mt Smart Stadium. 

George is stuck between a rock and a hard place and admits the NRL could decide to go on without them if they decide to forfeit and return to New Zealand with the travel ban in place. 

"That's a real possibility," George told The AM Show. "If we're not in the competition they'll use that game as a bye. 

"The NRL want us in the competition, but I have to make the best decision for the players and their families. 

"If we don't play home games in New Zealand, that will have a massive impact on the club, an impact on our fans, sponsors, but it's out of our control, we just have to battle through and look after our players, their families and staff.

"If there travel restrictions were taken off the table, they could put us in the competition, but we won't be staying there for six months." 

The NRL have committed to playing round two - behind closed doors - before reassessing their options going forward. 

As the Warriors initially planned to be in Australia for two days, they don't have things like training gear or spare clothing and due to travel ban, they can't bring over any more players.

Outside backs Patrick Herbert and Peta Hiku have returned to New Zealand to be with their families - Herbert became a father recently and Hiku's partner is eight months pregnant.

Peta Hiku.
Peta Hiku. Photo credit: Getty

Some players from the Warriors' Canterbury Cup side are understood to have stayed in Sydney while the rest of their teammates flew home on Sunday.

Regardless of what happens, George said he will put players and their families first during this difficult period. 

"IIt's a very challenging time for the players and their families. 

"They all have their personal circumstances and as a club, it's important the families are well looked after and that means bringing their husbands home.

"It hasn't been easy, it was unplanned, and there are lots of commitments here away from football with their families and it's crucial these guys are back here

To their credit and resilience, they showed they wanted to do the best for their fans, but there will be some big decisions to be made later in the week for us."