Warriors CEO Cameron George has expressed relief over the NRL's decision to suspend the 2020 premiership in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The competition became one of the last professional contact sports to shut down in response to the outbreak, suspending its 16-team competition last night.

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The Warriors, who have been based in Australia and committed to continuing in the competition as long as it was running, are set to arrive back in New Zealand later today following Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's announcement to move the country into lockdown for four weeks.


"The boys are flying back today, we've organised a plane to leave the Gold Coast," George confirmed on the Radio Sport Breakfast. "They'll be home late this afternoon. Really happy about that process. It's crucial we get them home back to their families and loved ones."

Warriors CEO Cameron George. Photo / Photosport
Warriors CEO Cameron George. Photo / Photosport

Although backing the NRL's initial plan to keep the competition running, George admitted the decision to call it off yesterday was comforting.

"I felt like we in part, we were still playing and putting smiles on peoples faces and giving people something to look at and talk about, have a bit of fun with their mates," George said. "[But] I felt it was a sense of relief given our unique situation and what we've endured over the last two weeks and for the families.

"Late yesterday afternoon, post the Prime Minister's announcement, I had a number of partners and wives contact me and started to really question what are they going to do and why are we doing it which I completely understand. So in that regard, there was a little bit of relief.

The Warriors have been based in Australia for two weeks. Photo / Photosport
The Warriors have been based in Australia for two weeks. Photo / Photosport

With the season ceased, the NRL now faces a possible $500 million hit to its finances.
The NRL has closed its headquarters, forcing staff to take leave.

George said there was plenty to consider for both the overall game and the Warriors.

"I feel the pain and am devastated about the game, the sport standing still now there's 16 clubs that are going to take a massive hit," he said.

"It's tough for the game, it's tough for society at the moment, it's a really difficult time for everyone, we're very aware of the challenges which exist New Zealand wide and we're just a part of that now.


"We've just got to be smart about what we do between now and the foreseeable future. We've got to work through a number of things, we've got a massive meeting with the NRL being the 16 clubs and that will direct us in certain ways.

"There's a lot of balls in the air but we've got a lot of things in our favour as well."