NRL 2020: Teams agree to hold off training until NZ Warriors clear quarantine

NRL coaches have made a promise to the NZ Warriors that they won't resume training until the Auckland-based side have completed their quarantine in Australia. 

Under a proposal to restart the new season, after it was suspended by the coronavirus outbreak, the NRL has told clubs they can train from May 4 for a projected start date of May 28. 

But if the Warriors are to return to training by then, they must leave New Zealand by Sunday, which seems increasingly unlikely. 

The Sydney Morning Herald claims they are not expected to leave New Zealand before meeting the NRL again on Monday, when NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Arden will also make further announcements about borders restrictions.

On Wednesday afternoon, Warriors chief executive Cameron George, chairman Rob Croot and coach Stephen Kearney held a phone hook-up with NRL boss Todd Greenberg and Australian Rugby League Commission chair Peter V'landys about the logistics of a proposed return date.

After being frustrated earlier in the week over a lack of communication, George was pleased with the progression made, although there were more details to iron out. 

But to ensure a level playing field when the competition resumes, the Rugby League Coaches Association (RLCA) unanimously agreed no club would resume team training until Warriors players have completed their 14-day isolation period.

That meant all 16 clubs would either have to agree to a shorter preparation to allow the season to commence on May 28 or the start date would have to be pushed back.

"As a collective, the coaches agreed that it's only fair to wait for everyone to be in the same position to restart the comp," RLCA chief executive Kelly Egan told

"The Warriors are under a different level of lockdown to us in Australia and you've got to remember they've had to self-isolate, after they've returned to New Zealand as well.

"So they've had different timelines to work under and the idea came up, and it's been agreed that it's only fair and reasonable that all clubs are treated the same."

The likes of Wayne Bennett (South Sydney), Trent Robinson (Sydney), Craig Bellamy (Melbourne), Des Hasler (Manly), Michael Maguire (Wests) and former Warriors coach Ivan Cleary (Penrith) are among the coaches that make up the newly formed RLCA.

NZ Warriors coach Stephen Kearney.
NZ Warriors coach Stephen Kearney. Photo credit: Getty

Coach Kearney said the ability to accommodate their families in Australia was the most pressing question for many of his players, as they'd likely be based in Australia for at least four months, with some players' partners expected to give birth during that period. 

"For the players, it's really important," Kearney told AAP. "There's not a CEO in the world at the moment who will expect his employees to spend five months overseas, away from their families in the current climate.

"They've all been really good up until now, but the reality of the situation is that I can't give them any information about what they're going into. We're trying to keep their spirits up.

"I know we're not the only ones who are inconvenienced in the competition, but it's a pretty significant one in terms of being three hours in a plane away from families.

"And if something happens to a family member back here, you can't get back and see them straight away. It's something for everyone to think about."

Meanwhile, V'landys continued to express the importance of having the Warriors in the competition when the season resumes. 

"We want the Warriors to be part of the 2020 season and we are doing everything we can to not only make that happen, but provide the support they need at a family level," V'landys said.

"It’s important to understand that our aim to restart the competition on May 28 is still six weeks away. We’re not proposing to start the competition next week.

"Accordingly we have ample time to analyse the data and ensure the infection rate is at such a low level, there is minimal risk to our players or the community.

"It also gives us time to make all the necessary arrangements for the Warriors."