NRL 2020: NZ Warriors immigration issue could affect several Australian players and staff

Over a dozen NZ Warriors players and staff could be left stranded in Australia after the NRL season has finished.

CEO Cameron George has confirmed two players will be denied from entering the country,  despite having lived here for several years.

Tongan Eliesa Katoa and Fijian Selestino Ravutaumada are not New Zealand citizens, despite having resided in the country for several years, so are unable to enter under the new COVID-19 rules.

But that could be just the tip of the iceberg as another immigration hurdle looms. 

Take interim coach Todd Payten and playmaker Blake Green who both hail from New South Wales, but currently call Auckland home.

They could find themselves out in the cold like Katoa and Ravutaumada.

"To now know we've got two players who won't be permitted back into New Zealand after the footy season, is very difficult for us to understand," club CEO Cameron George tells Newshub. 

 The Government indicated that case isn't closed, but the issue has raised concerns for the club about what might happen to other members of their squad when the season ends.

Immigration NZ's website is clear about who should seek approval before travelling to New Zealand. the list includes; "Australian citizens and permanent residents who normally live in New Zealand"

"To simply say you're not allowed back in the country, when they have full credentials to live in the country, is quite strange for me."

NRL 2020: NZ Warriors immigration issue could affect several Australian players and staff

The club will have to get official clearance for each player, proving New Zealand is their primary place of established residence. 

Cameron George is confident most of the Aussies fit the criteria, but approval isn't guaranteed.

New Warrior Jack Murchie could be at risk having only signed with the club last month and he hasn't lived here at all.

The ball is now firmly in the government's court to ensure the Warriors aren't left with a severely depleted playing roster to begin 2021.

Join Newshub for live updates of the Warriors v Tigers from 8pm Friday