NRL: Phil Gould provides reality check on NZ Warriors' homecoming

One of the most respected figures in rugby league fears Warriors fans may have to wait a long time yet to see their team based back in Auckland.

Phil Gould is on his first visit to New Zealand, since joining the club as a consultant last year.

He's vowed to use his vast influence in the game to help them, both on and off the field, but accepts some things are beyond his control, including the one thing the fans want the most - a return to Mt Smart Stadium.

Since joining the Warriors, the rugby league icon has a new appreciation for the club's sacrifice. 

"I don't think people appreciate the difficulty they face and the challenges they face," Gould tells Newshub.

Those challenges are ongoing and will continue for the foreseeable future, with players resigned to staying in Australia for the rest of the season. 

And Gould, who happily admits he has the ear of ARL chairman Peter V'landys, says the future of the Warriors at home in Auckland is littered with uncertainty. 

"It's very, very difficult for them, but they're doing a great job under the circumstances," says Gould.

"I can tell you that all they think about is coming back home. When that day comes, I'm sure it will be a celebration for everyone.

"The NRL is very, very cautious about the day coming when the Warriors return home and where Australian teams can come here to play. The NRL's got to be very careful about the future of it to maintain the competition. 

"I don't think any of us have got the answer to that at the moment, where the Warriors are going to be based now and into the future. At the moment, they're resigned to staying there for the rest of this year."

NRL: Phil Gould provides reality check on NZ Warriors' homecoming
Photo credit: Getty/Newshub.

Gould says the current travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand is an issue for the NRL, which realises if borders slam shut, the competition will follow suit.

"Not even the Warriors make those decisions," Gould notes. "That'll be up to the respective governments."

With no sign of border policy changing and the vaccination programme still in its early stages, things may not become clear until well into next year. 

But when they do, Gould says he will fight to get the club more home games as a 'thank you'.  

"By the end of this year, the Warriors would have spent two years away from home. 

"My suggestion is every NRL team over there should bring their home game against the Warriors over here for at least once over the next couple of years, as a 'thank you' to the Warriors for keeping the competition going. 

"If the Warriors don't make this sacrifice, the NRL doesn't go ahead.

"You go and ask Mr V'landys how often I'm pushing that cause, and he'll tell you, so it's got our full support."

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