NRL 2020: NZ Warriors book plane bound for Australia, but no permission to land

The NZ Warriors have a plane booked to cross the Tasman, but so far, nowhere to land it, with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealing they did not yet have permission to arrive in the country. 

The NRL is moving ahead with plans to restart 20-round competition on May 28, with the Grand Final scheduled for October 25.

But despite previous reports that the Warriors had exemption to re-enter Australia, Morrison insists that decision hasn't been made, adding the NRL still has plenty of hoops to jump through before resuming play. 

"That still hasn't been determined," Morrison says. "The Commonwealth has made no decision about the access by the Warriors into Australia, that hasn't happened.

"It's helpful for all of these issues that have to be resolved to hopefully achieve that timetable, that they be done between agencies and the NRL - and indeed, with the AFL and the other sporting codes who are working to these ends - and we'll continue to work with them in good faith.

"As I said at the outset, I like the aspiration, it'd be great to see it back on there, but it's got to satisfy all the health requirements.

"There is the code that is being developed for elite sport, professional sport, community sport, as well as individual recreation. That's been done by the medical expert panel now."

But time is quickly running out for the Warriors, if the competition is to resume on a level playing field, with the NRL clearing teams to begin training on May 4.

As things stand, the Warriors can't enter Australia and if they are allowed, they may still face a two-week isolation, meaning they can train until May 18 at the earliest. 

Warriors chief executive Cameron George has told Newstalk ZB that a charter flight has been booked for Sunday, carrying 50 players and staff to Australia, where they would be based for the rest of the season.

They are still awaiting Australia state and federal approval, and sign-off from the NRL on some "non-negotiable" requests around player support.

"We're due to leave on Sunday and it's like wrestling smoke at the moment," says George. "Fifty odd people to relocate for six months. 

"We've got a charter flight booked to leave on Sunday afternoon on the basis that we get approval from the goverments. 

"I'm confident we get there, it might not get confirmed until tomorrow or Saturday, but it's about having the right paperwork to get into Australia."

George hopes players' families can join them in the near future, but they won't be on the plane on Sunday, as that may have slowed the process even more. 

"There's no CEO in the world right now, running any organisation, asking 50 of his employees to relocate to another country, without knowing what they will be paid, or without family support or knowing when they are coming back," George says.

"I feel like our club is being asked to do something no-one in the world is doing anywhere. It is a massive sacrifice and we are a family-orientated club.

"But how good… I signed off on an email to Peer V'landys the other day, saying this will be the greatest story in rugby league, when we come to Australia and kick your ass.

"I feel like this has galvanised the mindset of a lot of people in our club - it's different and maybe that's what we need. For 25 years, the normal approach hasn't been great success for us.

"I was saying to [coach] Steve Kearney and our playing group, take this opportunity, seize it, and do something no-one thinks we can do. Let's go with the best attitude.

"I've got to give credit to our players. Their mindset through all of this has been all about our club, fans and getting a result."

As all NRL teams have currently played two games, each side will play 18 more games, playing each other once, with five additional games.