Phil Gould has revealed behind the scenes talks designed to take the Warriors home to Auckland early.
The Warriors are committed to bringing NRL back to Auckland for the first time in two years after the introduction of a trans-Tasman bubble for quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand, says club consultant Phil Gould.
The NRL club was buoyed by the news that arrivals into New Zealand from Australia could forego mandatory 14-day quarantine from April 19.
Speaking to James Bracey for Wide World of Sports’ Six Tackles with Gus podcast, Gould said the club is already in talks with the NRL about which games are feasible to take to Auckland.
“I think what they’re looking at is picking out a couple of games selectively to go home for a weekend to get some football in Auckland,” Gould said. “As I understand it, Cameron George and the league have been looking at the draw and are saying it would be nice to go home for a weekend.
“So the Warriors would head home on the Thursday and head back on Sunday night. As to what rounds they are I won’t divulge at the moment. But that’s up to the Warriors to make that announcement.”
The Warriors have committed to remaining on the Central Coast until June 21. However, a break in the NRL schedule to account for the standalone second State of Origin match on June 27, will give the club ample time to relocate to Auckland, should the COVID-19 situation allow.
It’s understood the Kiwi club is eyeing its clash against St George-Illawarra on Friday, July 2 as its first match at Mt Smart Stadium following the club’s permanent relocation home.
While the club would love to be assured that the move back to Auckland would last for the rest of the season, Gould says the unpredictable nature of the pandemic has forced them to take a cautious approach.
“They’re still maintaining the resolve that they’re going to be (Central Coast-based) all year. That’s where their heads are at,” Gould said.
“But you know now with a couple of visits back and if everything goes well, they’ll keep monitoring the situation I’m sure they’d love to be home as quickly as they can because for the Warriors it has not only been a hard time over here in Australia but being away from extended family and friends.
“For the club’s perspective the corporate partners and sponsors and the fans, you want to be home based at your home ground.”
The last Warriors home game at the venue was on August 30, 2019 against South Sydney.
The only competitive rugby league that was played in the country last year was the Test match between the Kiwi Ferns and Fetu Samoa on November 7. Gould says the players have made the best out of a bad situation.
“Some of the players rather than staying in the apartments provided have gone out and rented houses so they can have a bit of independence with their time,” Gould said.
“They’re actually ensconced in the community up there. They’re doing really well. A lot of the fellas are going up doing education courses.
“Some have gone down to the local cafes and worked as baristas for nothing and help the locals out. They’re really enjoying the community up there but I’m sure they’d all love to be home too.”
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