NRL 2020: NZ Warriors CEO Cameron George predicts no home games in 2020

CEO Cameron George believes the Warriors will not play a home game at Mt Smart Stadium this NRL season.

The 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 with so much uncertainty surrounding the sporting world due to the coronavirus, which has already seen most major sports leagues suspended, George admitted he couldn't foresee any Warriors action in Auckland in 2020.

"I truly believe that unfortunately - to be very transparent - that I don't think there will be [any homes games] at this point in time," said George, having just landed back in Auckland. 

"That's just my assumption. I haven't heard that from anywhere but there's just that much unknown happening there at the moment.

"It's only going to take one player to get the symptoms then that will lock down a team, and therefore the competition's in disarray."

Warriors CEO Cameron George.
Warriors CEO Cameron George. Photo credit: Getty

George met with NRL CEO Todd Greenberg and coach Stephen Kearney at the team hotel after the game on Saturday night to discuss their options. 

He then took those to the playing group, in what he described as an emotional meeting.

"We discussed a number of the end of the day it was about what our players and the club wanted to do for our fans.

"I really give a lot of credit to our playing group and their resilience around these challenging times and more credit to the families, because there were a lot of devastated players there yesterday. 

"There were some grown men with tears in their eyes because it is really a difficult period to endure when you don't know what the outcome is going to be."

The team will stay in Australia to play the Raiders and then reassess the situation.

"The massive challenge for us is the family stuff. We understand that and we really talked through that with the players and made sure we got to a position where everyone was quite comfortable - not necessarily happy - but comfortable to just get into it for the next seven days.

"Fingers crossed that things work out and one way or another we'll be reunited with the families."

The players may choose to come back to New Zealand and into the 14-day self-isolation, which would essentially end their campaign. A complete withdrawal from the competition is a very real possiblity.

"We're going to lock ourselves in for round two but each day we'll review it with the NRL and what's translating around the globe with coronavirus.

"At the end of the day, when we sit down with our playing group and our staff it will be about what's best for them and their families, and balance that out with our obligations with the competition and the NRL."

The financial implications for the club should they choose to pull out of the competition would be "massive", George added.

"We're a small to medium business that relies on events and our game days are major events

"Our players go out there to put on a show so if they're not fit and healthy, it affects our major events. Then when you have an outside influence like this happen, it shuts down our business, more or less.

"We've got to work through that with our owners and sponsors. 

"We've got a fantastic loyal base...they've been nothing but supportive through this  challenge and they're going through the same with their own businesses."