The current New Zealand Warriors group won't experience a more unique situation in their careers than the one they have are returning home from.

A week ago, the conversation was around how to keep the team in the NRL without the option of returning to New Zealand for home games. Now, after making the decision to remain in Australia for the foreseeable future, they have packed their bags and headed back across the Tasman.

With the NRL indefinitely suspended earlier this week, the Warriors were free to return home to those they were forced to leave behind.

"It was a sense of relief for some of them in respect to getting back to loved ones," Warriors coach Stephen Kearney told Radio Sport's D'Arcy Waldegrave of the playing groups reaction to the competition being suspended.


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"There's also a sense of sadness in not being able to play footy but obviously the situation is much larger than our game of footy – you just have to turn on the telly to see what's happening all over the world and how devastating the situation is."

Since setting out for Newcastle ahead of their opening match of the season two weeks ago, the Warriors have been through a range of scenarios.

First, they learnt they would be unable to return home to play after the New Zealand Government implemented a mandatory two-week self-isolation period for all travelers entering the country. That was followed by the uncertainty of their immediate future, with suggestions the NRL could continue without them in the competition.

The side found a resolution to keep them in the game by relocating to the Gold Coast, where they were based last week and held their opening home game of the season.

Now, after all that, the situation changed again when the NRL's biosecurity and pandemic expert recommended the competition be halted due to the threat posed by the rapidly spreading coronavirus.

"It was the old cliché of one day at a time," Kearney said of the constantly changing situation the team found itself in. "What happened 24 hours earlier was a totally different situation; it was changing that quickly.

"We wanted to commit to playing in the competition and no doubt first up there would have been a little bit of doubt in some boys' minds, but I thought for the most part they handled it really well. I'm really proud of how they went about it in such challenging times.


"They were really resilient in the sense that it was an uncertain time and they just got on with the job. They were really well led by Roger (Tuivasa-Sheck), Tohu (Harris), Greeny (Blake Green) and Blairy (Adam Blair). I know the type of characters they are and they just made everyone proud the way they went about it."

The Warriors will now join the rest of New Zealand in a government mandated lockdown over the next four weeks in a measure that was put in place in an attempt to slow, or stop, the spread of Covid-19.

As of Wednesday, there were 205 cases of the virus in New Zealand; the Ministry of Health confirmed 50 new cases on Tuesday alone.

But while the playing group is able to return to their families, Kearney will have to wait longer before he can get home to his, who are based in Brisbane, as he will be in New Zealand to help put plans in place for the players to follow during the lockdown.

"I thought it was really important I travel with the team and get the process over the next four weeks planned out and be here during this time, then I'll try get home to my family as soon as all this has settled down a bit," Kearney said.

"We'll be sending out a plan for them early next week to follow over the next four weeks while this national lockdown is on.

"We've got a bit of a plan around it and it's just about getting through the situation as best we can." The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website