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NRL wants Warriors in Australia on May 3 as quarantine bubble bursts

The Rugby League Players Association was locked in meetings with Warriors officials on Thursday discussing provisions for players to have their families also travel to Australia, which could be home for several months.

In the email V’landys described the NRL’s much-debated end-of-May return as “quite achievable”, provided Australia’s COVID-19 infection rate continues to fall.

The NRL won’t risk placing interstate teams and the Warriors in the same quarantine hub for the competition resumption as they scour separate hotels and resorts across NSW for accommodation and training facilities.

While it is widely expected the players from Sydney-based teams will be able to live at home for the season relaunch, the three Queensland clubs – Broncos, Cowboys and Titans – as well as the Storm and Warriors are expected to be based in NSW.

Sydney Olympic Park had firmed as a hub to house the visiting teams, but sources familiar with the Project Apollo working party are now exploring individual sites throughout the state.

It is believed the potential risk of a COVID-19 outbreak spreading across different playing groups in the one precinct has prompted the NRL to finally scrap any coronavirus bubble for the non-NSW teams.

The Warriors could be forced to remain in Australia for months on end should the NRL season resume.

The Warriors could be forced to remain in Australia for months on end should the NRL season resume.Credit:AAP

The Project Apollo innovations committee deferred its planned meeting on Friday until next week as it gathers more information about the logistics of restarting the competition.

Project Apollo boss Wayne Pearce wants more information from the Australian and New Zealand governments about the limitations imposed on the Warriors.

The committee is consulting a biochemical and weapons expert who has advised the Australian army as well as the police on how to set up training and playing environments.

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Warriors owner Mark Robinson has insisted his club is committed to playing its part in this year’s competition and an extra two weeks in New Zealand before flying out will satisfy the squad.

The NRL has been under increasing pressure from state and government officials who have described the May 28 date as “ambitious”.

All NRL coaches have agreed not to start team training until Kearney’s side is able to resume preparations as a group.

Regardless, the New Zealand government is contemplating whether to reopen the borders if both countries either side of the Tasman continue to manage the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our figures with Australia, it’s almost as if we’ve got a trans-Tasman bubble between our two countries and if the figures keep on going that way then that is a serious possibility,” New Zealand’s foreign affairs minister Winston Peters said.

“We are exploring that as we speak.”

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern said it would be part of her ongoing agenda with Australian counterpart Scott Morrison.

“We are aware of their interest in that, it has not got much beyond that,” Morrison said. “But we are not at present contemplating any border changes at the moment. We will work closely with New Zealand, we have all along.”

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