NRL 2020: Peta Hiku leaves stranded Warriors' teammates to support pregnant partner in New Zealand

Peta Hiku says his Warriors teammates support his decision to leave the team in Australia to return home to New Zealand, to be with his heavily pregnant partner. 

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 and Australia. 

But with the blessing of his teammates, Hiku returned to New Zealand on Sunday so he can be with his partner Lisa, who is due to give birth next Friday. 

Warriors wing Patrick Herbart also returned home, as his partner recently gave birth to a baby boy.

Hiku said the Warriors were informed of the travel restrictions moments after the 20-0 defeat to the Newcastle Knights, leaving players and team officials hours to decide if they wanted to remain or return home before the midnight deadline. 

"If I was on my own, I know where I'd want to be, but I have a family and that is something I had to put first," explained Hiku at Auckland airport. 

"My partner was telling me to stay, but everything is changing day by day, and we didn't want to take any risks where we might not be able to travel, so we made a decision for me to be back here was best for her.

"The boys pushed me away by telling me to go, I was sitting there frustrated but them knowing the situation, they told me to go, which made my decision easier. 

"You head into a match thinking about the game, but afterwards we're told you have to decide almost on the spot.

"With her parents in Australia, they would have had the 14-day isolation, so it was best for me to come home." 

The NRL is planning to continue on into round two next weekend in front of empty stadiums, as it battles with how to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

The Warriors will be without Hiku and Herbert for their clash against the Canberra Raiders, which has been shifted from Auckland to the Gold Coast.

Members of the Warriors' Canterbury Cup side stayed in Australia as cover for Hiku and Herbert, but due to Australia's restrictions, they can't bring in any more players. 

Warriors players during the 20-0 loss to the Newcastle Knights.
Warriors players during the 20-0 loss to the Newcastle Knights. Photo credit: Photosport

The Warriors have since relocated to  Kingscliff on the NSW far-north coast where they'll train ahead of Saturday's clash against the Raiders at Cbus Super Stadium.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg proposed that the Warriors stay in the country for 16 days to allow them to play against the Raiders and Manly Sea Eagles. 

But Warriors playmaker Blake Green told The Big League Wrap on Fox Sports that things are uncertain, as players voted to stay for just the week.

"To be honest, I’m not 100 percent sure where everyone's at," he said.

"Things can change on a day-to-day basis, so at this stage we agreed to stay in camp in Kingscliff for the next seven days and continue on for our game against the Raiders.

"We've had two guys that decided to head home this morning, one with an impending birth happening next week.

"Patty Herbert just had a baby about two weeks ago and it’s just his partner there in Auckland on her own. It was important they went home and provided the necessary support to their families.

"With the rule change by the government closing the borders with the isolation in Australia, there’s no chance for us to bring over players in the next two weeks which makes it challenging for us." 

"We only came over here with a backpack. We were here for two days to play a game of footy.

"We don't really have anything in terms of clothes or training gear to prepare for a game of footy.

"At the moment, it's important we approach it week by week. We've got a game of footy and a performance we need to put on next week so at the moment that’s our focus."