Warriors coach Stephen Kearney will not compel any member of his squad to relocate across the Tasman to play in a reconfigured NRL competition, nor will he hold any prejudice against a player that decides not to make the trip.

There are still numerous pieces of the jigsaw to work out, and doubt over when or if the competition will restart, though the NRL has undertaken to provide answers for the Warriors, who have the most pressing concerns of any of the 16 clubs, ahead of the mooted restart on May 28.

But ultimately, no matter what scenario and options the NRL come up with, many of the Warriors players will have to wrestle with one overriding question.

Can I leave my wife, partner and in many cases, children, behind for four to five months?


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From a football point of view, Kearney will want to take his strongest squad, but he has empathy for the predicament of his players.

"I'm not going to make them, that's their choice and I'm not going to judge that," Kearney told the Herald. "No way in the world. That's the reality of the situation. Look what that entails right now.

"If they left [next week] and something happens to the individual's family … if they come back I don't think there is going to be an exemption so what happens when you come back? There is a lot of stuff that we need answers to."

Speaking to the Herald last week, Warriors chairman Rob Croot had a similar view.

"We are committed to the competition, we want to be in the competition and we are going to do everything possible to be part of the season this year," said Croot. "But for us as an organisation, it's people first. We have to look after our people."

Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney at a training session earlier this year. Photo / Photosport
Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney at a training session earlier this year. Photo / Photosport

Kearney, like everyone involved in the NRL, wants to see the competition restart, but is also wary of doing too much, too soon.

"There's not a company in the world right at this moment that is asking their employees to move away from their families for potentially five months," said Kearney. "We have to be careful. Everyone wants something to get up and going but the timing has to be right."


Kearney has had regular online meetings with the playing squad. He has individual catch-ups once a week, and speaks to the leadership group (principally Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Adam Blair, Tohu Harris and Blake Green) frequently.

He says the players are open-minded about the situation, and want to do everything possible to take the field again this season.

"[Their reaction] has been positive but it's a bit like my reaction," said Kearney. "What's the answer to point A? What the answer to point B? Cameron [George] and I have spoken to everyone [at the club] but we need some clarity about the situation."

Despite the information vacuum from the NRL, Kearney and football manager Daniel Floyd have been working on different scenarios for an extended stay in Australia, starting with a mini pre-season.

"We have been looking at the training camp, locations, what does the squad look like, can we take extra players," said Kearney. "We have got some options in terms of what it could look like for us and we are doing everything that we can to prepare."

Project Apollo, the NRL taskforce working on the restart, are due to brief the clubs on their latest plans on Friday night, while the Warriors are expecting an update on their unique situation on Monday from the NRL.


Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website