The Warriors are hopeful that their new base of Redcliffe in Brisbane for 2022 will provide a performance and commercial boost, as well as ending the instability and uncertainty that plagued their season this year.
However, the reality of a third successive season across the Tasman means the club will lose some of their backroom staff, with chief executive Cameron George saying that another year separated from their families would be a bridge too far for a few.
On Thursday the club confirmed they would run their NRL operation from the Queensland capital next year, as first signalled by the Herald two weeks ago.
With a return to New Zealand out of the question – due to the ongoing border uncertainty – the Warriors have committed to Redcliffe, north of Brisbane, from the start of pre-season on November 8th to the end of their campaign.
In 2021 they planned their season in three blocks – hoping to relocate to New Zealand after the first third – but won't entertain that idea in 2022.
"The moving around creates so much instability, with everyone living out of suitcases," said George. "I've seen children start school and have to move again; partners try to get work but unable to because of the short-term nature.
"It's been really difficult and we have seen the impact it has had on the playing group and staff. We wanted to eliminate that risk and movement as much as possible."
The Warriors aim to have up to six 'home games' at Mt Smart, on a fly-in, fly-out basis.
The NRL draw is still being finalised, but the club will request for most of those matches to be in second half of the season, to give more likelihood of them going ahead.
According to George, the Redcliffe move has been well received by the playing group.
"It was a relief – it has been playing on everyone's mind," said George. "Even things like the children and where they go to school. It's a balancing proposition, professional and personal, and we need to get personal [lives] as stable as possible to enhance the professional side of things."
The longer-term arrangement will mean players can make their own accommodation arrangements, a contrast to this year where club personnel has been housed together at resorts.
"Since January 3rd this year, notwithstanding what they went through last year, guys have been living in [each other's] pockets, every day, all day, footy 24-7 because we have been living in this hub life," said George. "It's important now to get back to living as normal as possible."
But the Redcliffe reality will mean difficult decisions for some support staff, who have endured two years away from partners and children.
"It's been awful for those guys and their families", said George, who described them as the "unsung heroes" of the club. "Some will be leaving for personal reasons and we respect that. They didn't sign up to be living in Australia, they signed up to be based at Mt Smart."
As a base, Redcliffe appeals on many levels. There is already a strong relationship with the Queensland Cup outfit, with the Dolphins a feeder club for the Warriors.
The stadium is an optimal size (11,500) and league-mad Brisbane offers a much larger catchment area, with a significant Kiwi population. The club is hopeful of significantly bigger crowds than they drew on the Central Coast and being able to leverage increased commercial opportunities.
The Warriors will be able to carry a bigger squad next year, with more reserve grade options, given they don't have to fly players in and out each week.
Relocating some of those players – as well as marquee signing Shaun Johnson - will be the next phase of the ongoing logistical challenge.
George also called for the Government to do what it could to help some of their staff and players to get home – either permanently or for a break – by providing more MIQ facilities.
"I'm encouraging the government to understand that there are lot of people that are offshore and wanting to get home," said George "There are so many people over here, not only our staff [and] they really need to understand and review the situation.
"I'm not asking for special treatment. If we need more [MIQ] facilities, get more facilities and get these people home, reunited with their families and working in the economy, kicking it off."