Under the NRL’s biosecurity protocols, players and staff inside each club’s bubble are allowed to leave home only for limited reasons, such as playing and training and medical emergencies.
The NRL approved Payten’s request for Finch to join the squad for a short time at their Terrigal camp after an earlier application for two-time premiership winner Chris Heighington to be embedded with the Warriors was knocked back.
Asked how it felt having Finch in the coaching box, Payten said: “Loud. I spoke to him about it last week and he’s been really good and I think having him in has been really good for him as well. He likes to talk and that was probably the loudest box we’ve had for a while.”
The potential breach could be another black eye for the NRL, which is dealing with the fallout of high-profile slip-ups from South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett, Dragons forward Paul Vaughan and Broncos star Tevita Pangai jnr.
The NRL is still examining the specifics of a group of up to 10 Broncos players also visiting a Brisbane pub a day after their loss to the Sharks earlier this month.
Finch, 38, was shown multiple times on the Fox Sports broadcast during the Warriors’ 18-12 loss to the table-topping Panthers at Central Coast Stadium on Friday night.
Payten spoke this week of the reasons for bringing Finch into the Warriors camp, with the squad having been stranded in Australia for almost four months to allow the NRL season to continue with 16 teams.
“I brought Finchy in for me, to keep me amused,” Payten joked. “But he has a good message because he had a really good career and then he had some challenges since.
“His main message to the group when we interviewed him on Monday night was around how much he misses this team environment that we’re in at the moment.
“He misses the structure, he misses the bus trips, he misses just hanging around the team. They were the things that really put him off-kilter once he retired.
“So our boys will look back on this time, say five, 10 years down the track, and think that was a really good time of our lives. That was the message I was trying to get through to the boys.
“I think he’s done that, but he also had some other stories that I wish he’d kept to himself at times.”
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Adam Pengilly is a Sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.
Michael Chammas is a sports reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald