Pass the salt has taken on a whole new meaning for the Warriors in their quarantine camp in Australia.

They can't.

Each player and staff member will have their own eating table, spread 1.5 metres apart, at the West Tamworth Leagues Club during their two-week quarantine.

They'll all have their own rooms of course, next door at the three-storey Mercure Hotel.

The Warriors arrive in Tamworth. Photo / Getty Images
The Warriors arrive in Tamworth. Photo / Getty Images

Coach Steve Kearney says players have lost weight and power, despite innovative attempts to keep the training schedule to a high standard during the Covid-19 lockdown in Auckland.

He has also revealed some of the Australian quarantine training rules, the latest of which arrived via email hours before they departed Auckland for Tamworth on Sunday.

"Nine players and one coach or one trainer, a total of 10, allowed on the field at once, maybe until the end of the week," he said.

"Our mindset - which I've been really proud of from the outset - is to go with the flow. As a footy group we have some really good minds here who will make it work for us. We'll see how we go."

The Telegraph described it all as "an incredible NRL fortress".

The Warriors arrived on Sunday evening, sitting spaced apart on two buses which had a police escort.

"We've got the club, the motel and Scully Park all locked down," said Wests CEO Rod Laing.

And with all clubs, players must have daily temperature checks and any returning a reading over 37.5C must go immediately to a nearby testing centre and 24 hours of isolation until the results come back.


There are other strict guidelines around hand washing, and removing shoes before they enter the gym, where they must use a second pair. All used training gear is immediately bagged and laundered.

Even as lockdown rules are eased for citizens, NRL players are required to remain in lockdown and accurately record all visitors to their homes.

The Warriors have had two initial defections from their full-strength squad which made the trip to Tamworth.

Missing from the trip were wing David Fusitu'a, whose departure was delayed on compassionate grounds, and hooker Nathaniel Roache, who reported feeling unwell with a sore throat. He was told to immediately have a virus test.

The rest of the players landed on a different sort of planet including what is described as a heavily disinfected leagues club and motel.

Players must wipe down their weights equipment after completing their exercises. The 40 staff looking after the Warriors will wear goggles, face masks and gloves at all times.


A few things should be the same as usual. The Warriors nutritionist has given the staff a precise meal plan.

Stephen Kearney boards the charter flight in Auckland. Photo / Photosport
Stephen Kearney boards the charter flight in Auckland. Photo / Photosport

Scully Park, which was to host this Saturday's round nine match between the Tigers and Raiders, is perfectly marked out for the Warriors training.

"It's a bit of a funny feeling, initially it's one of excitement," said Kearney - whose family lives in Australia - before leaving.

"I don't have family at home with me here [in Auckland], but then I felt a little bit sad thinking we're not quite sure when we'll be returning. I can only imagine how it is for players with family and kids here."

More football realities are starting to take hold.

Kearney said: "As late as this morning we've had an email come through about what we can do on the training field and not.


"It is nice to see the boys but I will be giving them a reminder, if you look around the world, we're the only professional sports competition up and running. There's a bit of trailblazing and also a huge responsibility. We can't stuff it up.

"It's a different world, rules and protocols we must adhere to. I want to make sure we live up to that responsibility and make our fans and members proud."

The coach said the lockdown had been a great opportunity for reflection. Among his TV viewing was a documentary on how the Australian cricket side emerged from the sandpaper cheating crisis.

But he was also mindful of keeping the league analysis in a healthy perspective with so much time on his hands.

"Sometimes you can look too deep into it and find what is wrong with everything," Kearney said.

He as looking forward to players like Jazz Tevaga being available again, after they were missing during the first two losses.


Tevaga, Josh Curran, Agnatius Paasi, Gerard Beale, Peta Hiku and Patrick Herbert were early round defections.

Kearney tried to give the players a sense of routine and process during lockdown in Auckland.

They even used social media to challenge each other with club legend and trainer Ruben Wiki heavily involved.

Some didn't have weights at home, so Wiki devised exercises using body weight to compensate.

Asked if he was confident they were meeting targets, Kearney said: "You've got to take their word for it - we'll soon find out. We'll get a good look at them on Tuesday when we are allowed to run. I'm confident they will be in good shape by May 28 (NRL kickoff date).

"But looking at some of them, some of them haven't been doing the bigger weights. I can see the muscle mass has dropped. It will mean a lot of hard work.


"It was always going to be a de-conditioning aspect for some of them. It's really important over the next three weeks to get them up to speed. It will be a lot of hard work but they will be ready for it.

NRL veteran Adam Blair. Photo / Photosport
NRL veteran Adam Blair. Photo / Photosport

Players took home balls but "they couldn't pass ... kickers took a couple of balls home and went about that the right way. They did as well as they could've done."

Kearney thanked everyone from members to commercial partners who have been "whacked over the head".

"We want to make sure we do our footy club proud," he said.

"We want to get out there and put our best foot forward."

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Captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck said it had been tough saying goodbye to his family in Auckland, but his wife and two young kids had great support around them.


"Once the risk is zero I'll be happy to bring my family over," he said.

"At this stage I've prepared to go for five months - if they can come over during a safe zone I'm happy to do that. It will be tough to not see them for that long."

Peta Hiku and Agnatius Paasi departing. Photo / Photosport
Peta Hiku and Agnatius Paasi departing. Photo / Photosport

"We've got clear direction now, it will be tough for the families but it is what it is," he said.

"It's such a unique position, to do different things and learn different stuff.

"We need to get comfortable as quick as we can because that is the new norm. We can't have excuses."

Captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck - pictured during the 2020 opener against the Knights - says
Captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck - pictured during the 2020 opener against the Knights - says "it is what it is" as he bids goodbye to family. Photo / Photosport

Tuivasa-Sheck said the leaders had been talking to players about "buying in". He would use the experience of having been on Kiwi tours.


"I've been on tours quite young and seeing how the senior boys adapt - make sure we stick together as a group and looking after each other," he said.

He hoped to play a game at home this year, but also wanted to perform well as a thank you gesture to Tamworth, for hosting them in quarantine period.