The New Zealand government has granted the Warriors an exemption to travel to Australia, clearing the first major obstacle to the team resuming its place in the NRL season.
The Warriors are hoping to arrive in Australia on May 3, which would allow all 16 clubs to start a mini pre-season the following day. The NRL received written permission from the New Zealand government over the Easter weekend allowing the Warriors to travel. The next step for the governing body is to liaise with Australian state and federal authorities to ensure they can land and bypass the 14-day quarantine policy for international arrivals.
If they can avoid spending a mandatory two weeks in a hotel room, the plan is for the Warriors to stay at Lake Ainsworth at Lennox Head, a recreational facility overseen by the NSW Office of Sport. The location, on the NSW north coast, could become a home base for the Warriors if the Queensland government relaxes its border restrictions, as it would mean minimal travel if NRL games can be staged in the Sunshine State.
However, the Warriors may need to relocate to Sydney if Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk doesn’t ease the state’s travel restrictions. She appeared to soften her stance slightly on Friday, indicating State of Origin may be played north of the Tweed at the end of the year if health experts deem it safe.