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Government grants approval: Warriors winging it to Australia

ARL chairman Peter V'landys is hopeful a "trans-Tasman bubble" will allow the Warriors to play a portion of the 2020 competition from New Zealand after the club on Saturday was granted official government permission to base itself in Tamworth from Sunday.

The Australian Border Force clearance for the Warriors to travel to regional NSW landed on Saturday morning, which V’landys described as "an excellent outcome for rugby league and another step towards the competition resuming on May 28".

Tamworth Airport will now be given temporary international status in time for the Warriors' 4pm flight on Sunday, when the club's chartered flight carrying their top-tier NRL squad and accompanying staff is due to touch down.

Players will then observe the mandatory two-week quarantine in country NSW, with a clearance for them to begin group training from Tuesday also delivered by the Federal and NSW governments.

"We have never wavered in our commitment to be involved in supporting the resumption of the season," Warriors CEO Cameron George said after the ABF approval was granted.

"We’re now ready to go and couldn’t be happier about the prospect of being back on the field at the end of the month.

"It has been a challenging and often frustrating time for all parties over the last few weeks with so many issues on the table but it has finally come together as of today.

"We’re exceptionally grateful to both the Australian and New South Wales governments for granting us an exemption and we respect the process they’ve had to work through.

“We’re hugely appreciative of the support we’ve had from the NRL, especially from (chairman) Peter V’landys who has been in our corner throughout."

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V'landys spoke to senior Warriors players during Friday's phone hook-up with RLPA delegates, with an assurance “they will be on the plane” given amid final negotiations with players around their revised pay for the rest of 2020.

As it stands the Warriors' stay in Australia is for an indefinite period.

But with Morrison and Kiwi counterpart Jacinda Ardern publicly discussing the prospect of travel restrictions easing between Australia and New Zealand later in the year, V'landys is hopeful the Warriors could operate out of Auckland at some point in a restructured 20-round season.

"Listening to media reports, the first country that's going to be allowed entry into Australia is New Zealand ad vice-versa," V'landys told

"Basically if those two restrictions are removed there's nothing stopping the Warriors going backwards and forwards as normal.

"We'd hope that information is correct and that's a progression that happens because it would make for a much shorter stretch than the Warriors had first contemplated."

New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, who is also the nation's foreign minister, spoke on Thursday about a trans-Tasman bubble operating without 14-day quarantine periods between the two countries.

''It could happen at level 2 (coronavirus restrictions in New Zealand) as long as you had a guarantee as to who was coming and their safety and security,'' Peters said.

''The moment you put in a 14-day quarantine forget it - it's not going to work."

By the same token, any mandatory quarantining would make the Warriors travelling home and back for NRL games logistically impossible.

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In the meantime, the Warriors plan to relocate closer to Sydney once their two-week quarantine period is observed in Tamworth, where they will train at Scully Park.

Stephen Kearney's side would potentially base themselves on the Central Coast afterwards ahead of the NRL's May 28 restart date.

Following discussions between the NRL and RLPA on Friday morning, the Warriors and players from the other 15 teams will be put through a biosecurity "education day" on Monday, but may not begin training until later in the week once several matters including remuneration and health measures are confirmed.

Acknowledgement of Country

Melbourne Storm respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.