NRL 2020: Officials want Warriors in Aussie when season resumes, but would continue without them

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg is pleading with Australian and New Zealand governments to allow NZ Warriors back on board when the season resumes as early as next month.

Greenberg has asked the respective governments to bend their coronavirus rules to allow the Auckland-based club back into Australia, should the NRL season resume, but admits the show would still go on without them. 

Warriors players are currently in isolation, which ends on Wednesday, after returning home from New South Wales two week ago, after the season was postponed. They would then revert to the nationwide level 4 lockdown currently restricting non-essential activities in New Zealand.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the NRL is working on a plan to have all 16 teams living in a bubble together in Kingscliff, Gold Coast or Brisbane to ensure the 2020 season can restart.

In a perfect world, Greenberg wants the Warriors involved, due to the sacrifices they have already made to keep the competition alive, but knows that could be tricky, with New Zealand's borders currently shut.  

Greenberg and Australian Rugby League chairman Peter V'landys will present a blueprint of their plan to the commission on April 21, when a decision will be made on the start date and structure of a competition that could kick-off as early as the end of next month.

The NRL has appointed a new infectious disease expert to help create "the safest place on earth" for games.

It has until then to try to get the respective governments on board with their plans, but if they can't, the season would resume with 15 teams - without the Warriors. 

"We could play without them, but we don't want to," Greenberg told the Sydney Morning Herald. 

"We want to play a competition with all 16 clubs. We'll be working hard on the Warriors behalf with the governments on both sides of the Tasman to make sure they can play a part in 2020. 

"We'll be doing everything possible to ensure the season is played in its full capacity with all teams and that includes the Warriors.

"That's for two reasons. One, we want the competition to be pure, but two, to genuinely reflect the sacrifices they made earlier in the year."

Todd Greenberg and Peter V'landys.
Todd Greenberg and Peter V'landys. Photo credit: Getty

When COVID-19 first threatened to disrupt the NRL season, the Warriors agreed to stay in Australia and base themselves at Kingscliff for as long as it took to complete their campaign. They played one 'home' game against Canberra Raiders on the Gold Coast, before the schedule was suspended.

Warriors staff are currently on leave, while other clubs have been forced to let some of their personnel go to cut costs. 

If all goes to plan, teams would be granted permission to resume training from April 27, giving them a four-week mini pre-season, before the season resumes on Thursday, May 28.

With the currently lockdown due to end on April 23 - and assuming it is not extended - the Warriors may still face restrictions on training as an extended group or travelling internationally.

Last month, V'landys stressed the importance of the NRL continuing or it would face massive financial woes. 

"I can't stress enough our game has never faced a challenge like this," V'landys said.

"The longer it takes, the more pressure on our financial viability. 

"It could have catastrophic effects on us going forward. Our money will only last so long and once it's extinguished, we are in big trouble.

"An Australia without rugby league is not Australia. Rugby league has been a fabric of our society for hundreds of years.

"It is people's escape, it is people's relaxation and we have to do everything we can to continue the tradition of rugby league."