NRL 2021: NZ Warriors concede Mt Smart homecoming may have to wait until after Australian COVID outbreaks

NZ Warriors still hope their planned homecoming against Canterbury Bulldogs can go ahead, despite the COVID-19 threat to the trans-Tasman bubble.

During two seasons impacted by the global pandemic, the Warriors haven't stepped foot on their Mt Smart Stadium home since taking on South Sydney Rabbitohs in round 24, August 2019.

With the Warriors scheduled to host the Bulldogs on August 15, nearly two years - or 728 days - would have passed by the time the Kiwi club plays in front of a home crowd again.

The Warriors have been based in Australia since round three of 2020, playing their home games at Gosford's Central Coast Stadium.

But as Australia battles another wave of COVID infections, including a pause of the trans-Tasman bubble for three days this week, the Warriors' homecoming may also be put on hold.

"I suppose we'd be fools to think that it's not a possibility," Brown says. "I'd imagine a decision on it wouldn't be made until as late as possible, but we'll just cross our fingers, and hope that we can get it under control quick and [the game] can go ahead."

A first home game in two years would be a welcome relief for Warriors fans. Since then, the club has changed significantly, with a new coach, several players leaving and several others arriving.

And Brown concedes that it'd be disappointing to keep the Warriors fanbase waiting for the chance to see arguably some of the most exciting players in the club's history run out onto Mt Smart.

"There's going to be a lot of supporters that would be disappointed and rightfully so," he says. "In the past two years, the club's acquired a number of new players - people like Addin Fonua-Blake and a younger player like Reece Walsh- so there's a lot for the fans to look at.

"Then there's younger players, emerging players like Rocco Berry, that the fans in New Zealand haven't got to see yet.

"There's a lot to be excited about. It'll be disappointing if it doesn't happen, but the way of the world today - you've got to expect these things are a possibility."

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