The New Zealand Warriors are on their way to Australia to attempt to resume their NRL campaign - but not without a significant sacrifice.
For the Warriors, the season returning comes at a hefty cost, with the team departing to Australia without their families.
The players are set to undergo a 14-day quarantine in Tamworth, before likely moving to a Central Coast base, but their families were not allowed to be on the flight which left today.
One image on Instagram showed just how tough it will be, with Adam Blair's partner Jess snapping an image of Adam hugging and saying goodbye to his son Taika at the airport.
The returning NRL season is set to run until around October, meaning the Warriors players could be looking at as long as five months away from their loved ones.
However, Warriors CEO Cameron George told the Herald that negotiations were already underway to enable the players' families into Australia.
"That has been a priority for us – it has been non-negotiable with the NRL ... [and] that is my personal commitment to the club," George said.
"Not every family could go and some don't want to go; all families are different. Some want to go a bit later, some want to go for the duration [their partners are in Australia]."
George confirmed representations were being headed by the NRL to the Australian and New South Wales governments for family members who wanted to travel to Australia, where they would then have to undergo their own quarantine stand-downs before being reunited with partners.
The players had also been given assurances that everything possible would be done to allow their families to join them, once they had agreed to return to Australia to resume the season, while the facility they will likely take residence in on the Central Coast will be able to accommodate all the families, if they get clearance.
The families of the players and staff saw the players off from a private section of Auckland Airport today, though they did not congregate together to ensure the emotional farewells did not break level 3 regulations.
There is also a chance that the Warriors' stay in Australia might not be as long as initially expected, with hope remaining that rugby league could return to Mt Smart Stadium in 2020.
George acknowledged a New Zealand return and a more traditional travel schedule is possible.
"If you asked two weeks ago I would say no," he told the Herald.
"But I am holding some hope. I am not sitting here saying it will happen, but I am taking some confidence in the way things are trending in both cases [Australia and New Zealand]."
- with news.com.au