While rugby league officials are confident a trans-Tasman travel bubble will be established this year, the Warriors aren’t as positive and are preparing for a full season in Australia.
The Warriors have once again relocated to Australia for the upcoming NRL season with travel restrictions meaning games, currently, wouldn’t be able to played at home at Mt Smart Stadium.
The NRL is so confident a trans-Tasman bubble will be created soon though that they have scheduled the Warriors to host the Manly Sea Eagles in Auckland for their round five game on April 9.
Prior to that though, the Warriors will play their first four rounds based in Terrigal – a coastal New South Wales town Warriors CEO Cameron George expects the club to remain at all season despite the NRL’s positivity.
“We left New Zealand on the 3rd of May last year and we were told the borders were going to be open by the end of May. So don’t sit here in February, a year later, still thinking, ‘Oh they’ll be right, the borders are going to be open’,” George told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“We’ve set ourselves up to prepare that it’s not happening. Anything before that is a bonus.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in December last year the New Zealand Government hoped to establish a trans-Tasman bubble in the first quarter of 2021 but those plans took a significant dent last month when a community case of Covid-19 was discovered in Northland.
The case led Australia to reinstate a 14-day quarantine requirement for New Zealanders arriving in Australia after some states had relaxed restrictions for Kiwis travelling there last year.
Despite the tightening restrictions, ARLC chairman Peter V’Landys is still confident the Kiwi club will host NRL games on New Zealand soil this season.
“I am confident that will happen,” V’landys said. “Once New Zealand extinguish this one [case], which they’ve done so well in the past, there will be a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand.”
“There’s already [a bubble] coming from New Zealand, it’s going back to New Zealand that’s the issue.
“All we’ve got to have is for New Zealand to reciprocate it, which I am sure they will.”
George wasn’t as certain though.
“We haven’t played there [Mt Smart Stadium] since August 2019. That’s 19, not 2020,” he said.
“We are praying for it. We want to go home but the reality it is we are not letting it worry us because we can’t afford to sit here and listen to the news every day of the week. The problem is you don’t unpack your bags.”