Coronavirus: Warriors CEO not ruling out NRL games in Auckland this year

Omnisport

New Zealand Warriors chief executive Cameron George has not ruled out the possibility of playing NRL matches in Auckland this year.

The Auckland-based Warriors arrived in the New South Wales town of Tamworth in Australia on Sunday, as the NRL plans to restart the coronavirus-hit season on May 28.

The NRL was suspended through just two rounds on March 23 but squads returned to work on Monday, ahead of active training resuming on Wednesday.

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While the Warriors are set to base themselves in Australia for the 2020 campaign to be completed, CEO George talked up the possibility of staging games back home in New Zealand.

"If you asked me two weeks ago, I would have said no but it's shifted so dramatically in the space of two weeks, who knows what it's going to look like in a month's time," George told Sky Sports Radio on Monday.

"If Australia-New Zealand restrictions get relaxed to a point that enables us to come home, there's a big possibility of that happening.

"But we've focused on being there for the duration. That's our mindset."

George's comments came after New Zealand's foreign minister Winston Peter highlighted a "trans-Tasman" bubble amid border restrictions due to COVID-19.

While there have been more than 248,300 deaths globally, Australia and New Zealand have managed to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Australia has recorded 96 deaths, while neighbours New Zealand have seen just 20 casualties as both countries consider relaxing measures.

"The Warriors' participation in the NRL in Australia shows that a trans-Tasman bubble could work seriously well," Peters said in a statement.

"Australia and New Zealand are two of the most integrated economies in the world.

"The idea of a bubble with Australia was floated two weeks ago, and this is an example of the sort of action that could happen within it, while always ensuring the protection of public health."

Meanwhile, all 16 NRL teams assembled at club bases on Monday to participate in an educational workshop to understand strict biosecurity protocols ahead of the season returning.

Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V'landys said: "It's a great day for rugby league to see our squads assembling for the first time since the competition was suspended and I'm grateful to clubs and players for the commitment they've shown to ensure the competition resumes on May 28.

"Every player participated in an education day which explained our strict biosecurity protocols to ensure players understand what they can and cannot do.

"Our protocols are substantially stricter than the current government measures and we wanted to ensure the first day was devoted to educating our players - they know the future of the game rests with them complying with our protocols."

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