NRL 2020: NZ Warriors to remain in Australia, likely play Canberra Raiders on Gold Coast

The NZ Warriors will be staying on in Australia while New Zealand's quarantine regulation remains in effect.

Minutes before the Warriors' season opener against the Newcastle Knights, NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that all international arrivals after midnight Sunday must self-quarantine for a fortnight.

That ruling means no team can come to New Zealand to face the Warriors. 

Chief executive Cameron George spoke to NRL officials after the Warriors' 20-0 defeat to the Knights and said Australia is the best result for everyone involved. 

While sports leagues around the world are suspending play, the NRL is one of the few determined to keep playing. 

"However, with the travelling restrictions coming into place, returning to New Zealand would effectively remove us from the competition," said George.

"We had extensive meetings with [NRL CEO] Todd Greenberg, the Rugby League Players' Association and our players and staff until late last night to consider all our options.

Warriors coach Stephen Kearney and chief executive Cameron George.
Warriors coach Stephen Kearney and chief executive Cameron George. Photo credit: Photosport

"There is a lot to take into account, not least the impact on families back home as well as our members, fans, sponsors and other stakeholders.

"Ultimately we have reached a decision for the team to stay in Australia for the coming week.

"The landscape is changing so rapidly, though, and together with the NRL we’ll monitor the situation on a daily basis."

The Warriors will likely play their round two match against the Canberra Raiders at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast.

They were originally scheduled to play the Raiders in the first leg of a double-header at Eden Park alongside Super Rugby's Blues next Saturday, which has now been officially cancelled.

"It's hugely disappointing for both of us that this venture won’t be able to proceed this week, but there are clearly far greater concerns right now,” George and Andrew Hore (Blues) said in a joint statement.

"While it's beyond our control on this occasion we’re both keen to ensure we bring our two codes together in the future. We've worked on joint ventures before and plan to be involved in a lot more."

George and Hore said their organisations and Eden Park will work through the impact of the cancellation and advise fans in due course.

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

Both players have been spotted at Sydney Airport and will likely return home along with George.

On Saturday, Adam Blair's wife Jess said things would be very difficult if the Warriors remained in Australia. 

"I would cry!!" she posted.

"I have two kids, no family, studying my post-grad uni and work. I have exams, intensives and classes that are completely worked around Adam's schedule."