Plans to reunite with family in New Zealand have been given the green light for Warriors players David Fusitu’a, Ken Maumalo, Agnatius Paasi and King Vuniyayawa, 1 NEWS can reveal.
The Warriors have today booked flights for the quartet to return on July 27 – two days after their daunting clash with the Roosters on the Central Coast.
Earlier this month the Warriors told the NRL that players – initially Fusitu’a, Maumalo and Paasi - would return to New Zealand if their families were not granted an exemption to enter Australia and this weekend’s match against the Cronulla Sharks on July 19 was set as the final deadline.
But that was pushed back after the New Zealand Government requested Air New Zealand temporarily stop all incoming international flights to ease the stress on the country’s 28 isolation facilities which are struggling to house around 6,000 people.
The cancellation of flights throughout most of July initially left a number of Kiwis fearing they would not be able to return home at all.
The Warriors players learned the earliest they could return home was when Air New Zealand resumed flights across the Tasman from July 27.
Warriors CEO Cameron George said in a statement this afternoon the quartet had the total support of the club.
“We can’t say enough about the sacrifice they have made being away from their families so long,” he said.
“We fully understand the predicament they have been in and we’re so appreciative of what they have done in committing to the cause for as long as they have.
“When we travelled to Australia we promised the players everything possible in our control would be done to secure travel exemptions for their families to join them there.
“Ultimately the decision lies with government agencies to approve the applications the NRL made on our behalf. There hasn’t been any sign of a favourable result, which we accepted was always a possibility. Given those circumstances David, Ken, Agnatius and King are free to go home.
“As well as thanking them for all they’ve done we would like to thank Peter V’landys and the NRL for all the work they’ve put in for the players and their families. I would also like to thank the RLPA staff for their support of the players during this time. We’re hugely disappointed it hasn’t worked out as we would have liked but it was out of our control.”
On arriving home, the players will be required to go into isolation for 14 days before they can see their families next month.
George said consideration was now being given to how best to replace the returning players in the squad.