Rugby league: 'I can't see it this year' - Kiwis captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak expresses doubts over world cup

Kiwis captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has weighed in on the polarising prospect of the Rugby League World Cup proceeding as planned later this year.

While organisers last week confirmed the tournament would be going ahead in England in October, the sport's governing bodies in New Zealand and Australia have expressed concerns, given the rampant COVID-19 situation in the UK.

Defending champions Australia are yet to sign the tournament's participation agreement and although the NZRL has, it's conditional on its ability to field a strong enough side, with players expected to withdraw.

Halfback Kodi Nikorima has already pulled out of consideration, and others are likely to follow.

When push comes to shove, Watene-Zelezniak admits he doesn't foresee the competition going ahead.

"To be honest, I have so many things on my mind that I haven’t been able to think about the World Cup and the situation," says Watene-Zelezniak, who joined NZ Warriors as a mid-season signing from Canterbury Bulldogs last month.

"Even the Kiwis and the NRL have focussed on a lot of added things going on at this time, relocating us and trying to keep the comp going.

"I don’t know if anyone's been given a proper thought to it. As far as I can see, everything is changing every day, so who knows what can happen and if the World Cup even goes ahead?

"To be honest, I can't see it this year going ahead, just because of not only football, but the way the world is going at the moment.

"It's pretty crazy times and football should be the last thing on people’s minds."

Watene-Zelezniak's misgivings about the tournament are even more understandable considering he's already agreed to stay in camp with the Warriors for their relocation to the Gold Coast due to the latest coronavirus outbreak in Sydney, meaning he'll miss the birth of he and wife Purdy's third child.

The club left it to the couple to decide, and they ultimately came to an agreement - after a "long chat" -  he'd head to Queensland, while the rest of the family stay in New South Wales for the birth, which is expected in three weeks.

"It's not ideal, but we’re living in a world where things aren't ideal at the moment," says Watene-Zelezniak.

"For us, we looked at the positives, which are that we're healthy and being healthy at this time, with the things that are going on around the world is a big blessing.

"My wife is healthy, baby's healthy, so are the kids and we've got a lot of support.

"As much as I’d love to be there with my wife, I'm lucky to be blessed with a beautiful wife like mine who understands a lot and has been very understanding."

If the current COVID-19 situation continues in NSW, Watene-Zeleniak may not be able to meet his new child until the end of the season.

"I'm not going to lie, it is tough, it’s not ideal and I'd love to be with my wife," he says.

"But we FaceTime every day and I'm trying to organise stuff as much as I can while I'm away, to make sure she's in a good place, mentally and physically."

Despite such a trying situation early in his tenure, Watene-Zelezniak has no regrets about his move to the Warriors, as he eyes a chance to secure his first win with the team against South Sydney Rabbitohs on Saturday.

"It's tough and you want to win week in, week out," he admits.

"But we’ve got a lot of talent in this team, to be able to do some special things, it's just that unfortunate injuries have been happening, which aren't ideal. 

"But I've seen it before. Once you get that win, you get on a run."

Join us at 5pm, Saturday for live updates of the NRL clash between NZ Warriors and Souith Sydney Rabbitohs