National Party deputy leader Gerry Brownlee has slammed the Government for its handling of the case of two Warriors players who currently won't be allowed back in New Zealand when the NRL season ends.
It was revealed earlier this week that Eliesa Katoa and Selestino Ravutaumada, who travelled with the Warriors to Australia almost three months ago for the season's restart, won't be allowed back in due to New Zealand's current border restrictions.
New Zealand's borders are closed to all but citizens or permanent residents to curb the spread of Covid-19, meaning the duo have been excluded from returning as they are on work visas.
Mr Brownlee called the treatment "inconsistent", citing the entries that have been granted to non-citizens such as America's Cup sailors and a film crew tied to the upcoming Avatar sequels.
“The system allows filmmakers and New York Yacht Club sailors to be let in but not these two rugby league players," Mr Brownlee said.
“Because Eliesa Katoa and Selestino Ravutaumada hold Pacific Island passports the Government is dithering, even though they have played for the Warriors, representing New Zealand in the NRL.
“It’s OK for the glitterati film set to come across the border, but not two rugby league players who have made New Zealand home.
“There is no common sense in the Government’s management of the border. They are spending $479 million this year on border control and they just make it up as they go along.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told media yesterday the pair's case was being looked at but didn't guarantee the rules would be altered for them.
“I’d say that from what I’ve been briefed on that’s a matter that’s still looking to be resolved. But I think it just demonstrates the complexity of those issues at our border," the Prime Minister said.
"Of course citizens, permanent residents obviously [are] able to come straight through. Those who might be on visas but there are economic reasons for them being here, that takes a bit more of a process.
"I understand that’s still a case that’s being worked through.”
In response to Mr Brownlee's comments, a spokesperson for Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi told 1 NEWS Immigration New Zealand is getting more information about the partner of one of the players as part of their investigation.
The office added Mr Faafoi is "aware of the situation" but at this stage has no intention of intervening.
America's Cup exemptions that have been granted were made in advance, which is something Warriors management haven't done, the spokesperson said.
Warriors chief executive Cameron George said the pair will live in his family home in Australia after the season if need be until the issue is resolved.