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Sport 'Everyone is hopeful': NRL plan to let Warriors host games at Auckland in 2021

13:45  23 november  2020
13:45  23 november  2020 Source:   smh.com.au

The biggest question marks surrounding the 2021 NRL season

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The Warriors usually sell more jerseys than any other NRL club, but without home games merchandise sales have dried up. A few months ago, when it looked like Australia and New Zealand had both eradicated the coronavirus, the Warriors were making plans to host games late in the season at Mt

The Warriors players have one final hurdle ahead of the resumption of the NRL season. Warriors chief executive Cameron George said the club is working on helping the families to join the players in Australia, but insisted that the players are fully committed to the season ahead no matter what happens.


  'Everyone is hopeful': NRL plan to let Warriors host games at Auckland in 2021 © AAP

The Warriors will have all home games in 2021 scheduled for Auckland's Mount Smart Stadium and could play clusters of matches in New Zealand at the beginning and end of the season as they await the release of the NRL draw later this week.

On the brink of a pivotal fortnight which will determine when coach Nathan Brown will be able to finally bring his full playing squad together, the Warriors are edging towards playing their first match in New Zealand for almost two years.

One of the biggest questions surrounds where the Warriors will be scheduled to play their home games, but the NRL is planning on releasing a fixture list which allows for matches at their traditional home.

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2021 NRL premiership (Top 30) squad. Development players. Rugby League (video games series). NRL SuperCoach. Women in League. NRL Women's Premiership. Brisbane Rugby League .

When the NRL resumes on May 28, the Warriors plan to both train and host games at their new Central Coast for remainder of the remodelled season. 'Whether they (the NRL ) have two or three central grounds (where everyone plays) I'm not quite sure,' he said. 'However if we're based on the

Whether that becomes a reality will depend on the border situation, with a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand still yet to open.

But the ability to transfer timeslots from New Zealand local time will fit easier within the NRL's broadcast schedule should they be forced to play home matches on Australian soil, rather than vice versa.

For example, if the Warriors were to have home games scheduled in Australia at an 8pm timeslot on Friday or 7.30pm on Saturday night, and were then allowed to return to New Zealand, the matches would be played at times unpalatable for their local market.


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"If they constructed it on the basis that we're in Australia, the timeslots wouldn't work out if we could come back and play in New Zealand," Warriors chief executive Cameron George said. "At the end of the day, we're going to have to live with what we get.

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The Warriors were badly needed to ensure eight games in every round to honour the broadcasting contract which supplies the NRL with truckloads of dollars. "Survival" was the word heavily used at the time. Asked to base and quarantine themselves across the Tasman, with the promise families could

New Zealand Warriors utility player Jazz Tevaga has joined in with fans who performed a post game haka to greet the players after they defeated the Titans on the Gold After 80 minutes of football you would think NRL players would struggle to speak never let alone have the energy to do perform a haka.

"Everyone is hopeful of having a few games [at home in New Zealand] early and a few games late. Maybe we can have a few home games to start with, alternatively if we aren't here it would be great to have a few home games at the back end of the season because we're more of a chance of being back in New Zealand then."

Suggestions the Warriors should be allowed to play every match at home as a goodwill gesture for their sacrifice in keeping the 2020 competition alive won't be realised given the other 15 NRL clubs have commitments with various venues.

Brown spent two weeks in quarantine in New Zealand before taking charge of pre-season training last week, while a small group of Australian-based players has started their summer conditioning in Kiama on the NSW south coast. The entire squad is not expected to come together until January.

The situation has again provided a logistical conundrum for the Warriors, who are closely monitoring border control from the New Zealand government in the lead-up to Christmas before deciding where they will continue their pre-season in 2021.

"It's one thing to have borders open, but the most important thing is to have confidence they're going to stay open because if they don't, that is when you get stuck," George said. "The next couple of weeks are important to us."

The Warriors have formed a partnership with the Redcliffe Dolphins, allowing the club to send fringe players to the Queensland Cup for valuable game time in 2021. They could use Redcliffe as an Australian base if they are again forced to relocate to Australia, or return to the Central Coast where they played out of Gosford.

Brown has added key recruits Addin Fonua-Blake and Bayley Sironen on long term deals in recent months to complement the additions of Ben Murdoch-Masila, Kane Evans and Euan Aitken.

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