The Warriors have booked flights back to New Zealand for four players who have expressed desire to reunite with their families.

Plans for David Fusitu'a, Ken Maumalo, Agnatius Paasi and King Vuniyayawa to return home have been given the green light, the club confirmed this afternoon.

The Warriors have been forced to leave their families behind in New Zealand since relocating to Australia in May to play in the resumption of the NRL season. Earlier this month, the Warriors warned the NRL that some players would return to New Zealand if their families were not granted an exemption to enter Australia, with this weekend's clash against the Sharks being the final deadline.

However, the New Zealand Government's request to Air New Zealand for a temporary halt of all incoming international flights to ease the stress on the country's isolation facilities has pushed back that deadline for the Warriors, with players now only able to fly back home on July 27.

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This means the Warriors quartet will only travel back after their clash against the Roosters.

Paasi has four young children in Auckland, while Maumalo is also a young father and Fusitu'a's partner is expecting their first child.

Warriors CEO Cameron George said Fusitu'a, Maumalo, Paasi and Vuniyayawa had the total support of the players, staff and the club.

"We can't say enough about the sacrifice they have made being away from their families so long," he said.

"We fully understand the predicament they have been in and we're so appreciative of what they have done in committing to the cause for as long as they have.

"When we travelled to Australia we promised the players everything possible in our control would be done to secure travel exemptions for their families to join them there.

"Ultimately the decision lies with government agencies to approve the applications the NRL made on our behalf. There hasn't been any sign of a favourable result, which we accepted was always a possibility. Given those circumstances David, Ken, Agantius and King are free to go home.

"We're hugely disappointed it hasn't worked out as we would have liked but it was out of our control."


George doubts families will get an exemption any time soon, and those who are returning to New Zealand on July 27 are unlikely to participate "at all for the rest of the season".

David Fusitu'a. Photo / Photosport
David Fusitu'a. Photo / Photosport

The quartet will be required to go into isolation for 14 days before they can finally see their families next month. George said consideration was now being given to how best to replace the returning players in the squad.

Three of the players have been named in the matchday 17 for Sunday's clash against the Sharks, which George said shows how big the holes to fill are.

Whether they will be paid or not is another issue, but George is remaining tight-lipped on the matter.

"We've talked confidentially through our employment obligations with the player and their agent and the ARL PA, and those discussions will remain confidential. The most important thing for us is to look after the welfare of the player and their family, and we will certainly not negate those obligations."

Hopes for a transtasman bubble to ease the burden of families and players doesn't look likely at this stage, due to resurgence in virus cases in Victoria.


The NRL recently announced that players based outside Queensland, including the Warriors, will not be allowed to leave their homes except to play or train as the league reverts to strict biosecurity measures enforced earlier in the year to protect against the spread of Covid-19.

Victoria has suffered a worrying spike in coronavirus cases and there is concern NSW may experience a similar trend. Thirteen new cases in the state were announced today and there are 28 infections linked to an outbreak at Sydney's Crossroads Hotel in Casula.

A return to the strict regulations means players won't be allowed to attend pubs, cafes, restaurants or golf courses, while the number of home visitors they're allowed will also be restricted.