NRL 2020: New consultant Phil Gould considers overhaul of NZ Warriors' travel schedule

COVID-19 has hit the Warriors with a haymaker, but it's also given the NRL a chance to reassess how the club operates and could've inadvertently provided a silver lining.

That's the opinion of veteran coach, commentator, and now NZ Warriors consultant, Phil Gould.

"It's opened up some options in their thinking about the amount of travel they do in a normal season to and from New Zealand," Gould tells Newshub.

That includes a possible move away from alternating home and away fixtures, Gould says.

"Spend a month here in Australia and play four games then spend a month in New Zealand and play four in a row?" he suggests.

Longer blocks away would reduce travel and could be a win for the players, adds interim head coach Todd Payten.

"There are times when I think the lack of travel has helped us," Payten says. 

"But there are other times when I believe the lack of a home ground advantage has hurt us."

As for 2021, planning has been underway for some time, and all options are being explored. 

These include being based in Australia for the whole season, part of the season, or even a return to normality. 

"Warriors management have been looking at all those contingencies," Gould says. "If they had to stay in Australia, where would they stay? If it's half and half, what does that look like?"

At this stage, Gould expects pre-season training in bubbles in January, and a competition start in mid-March.

NRL 2020: New consultant Phil Gould considers overhaul of NZ Warriors' travel schedule
Photo credit: Getty/Newshub.

Changes include scrapping the NRL Nines competition, and just one pre-season trial match for each team.

But with the fluid environment, 2021 is still anyone's guess, Gould says.

"When they make the decision on what the competition looks like, they've got to go with what the environment is at that time," he says.

On the field, the emerging talent in the current Warriors side has impressed Gould in recent weeks. 

"You don't need to be an expert to see talent when it arrives," he notes. "The players of those you speak, and some others, have done really well."

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