The New Zealand Warriors are set to be bolstered by two new additions to their squad, just as they lose four key members to the effects of Covid-19.
After long being promised help by other NRL clubs, the Parramatta Eels have come through for the ailing Warriors by loaning George Jennings and Daniel Alvaro to the club.
The timing could not be better for the club with Ken Maumalo, David Fusitu'a, Agnatius Paasi and King Vuniyayawa all set to return home to New Zealand to be with their families following this weekend's clash with the Sydney Roosters.
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Jennings, capable of playing in the centres and on the wing, is the younger brother of Kangaroos and Origin star Michael Jennings and has played 23 games for the Eels since making his debut for the club in 2018, scoring nine tries.
Alvaro, meanwhile, is a prop who featured heavily in the Eels' finals run in 2019 and turned out for Italy at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. He received the club's Ken Thornett Medal for best and fairest player in 2018. Since making his NRL debut with Parramatta in 2015, he's played 88 matches in first-grade.
The Warriors confirmed the signings - on a four-week loan - this afternoon.
The new recruits are set to join the Warriors at their Terrigal base tomorrow and will train with their new team for the first time on Monday.
"We're hugely appreciative of the support from (head coach) Brad Arthur and the Eels as well as the NRL for the work they've done in making this happen," said Warriors recruitment manager Peter O'Sullivan.
"We realise all clubs are under pressure through injuries, so this is a fantastic gesture from the Eels to help us at a time when we're certainly thin on players."
"We're delighted to have Daniel and George joining us to boost our stocks in the area where we're the most exposed," said Warriors interim head coach Todd Payten.
"Daniel has been around for quite a while now and will give us size and quality in the middle of the park while George is a real talent.
"We can't thank Brad and the Eels enough for helping us out."
The Sydney Morning Herald says the loan is part of continuing efforts by the NRL to support the Warriors as they undertake a full season on foreign soil. Those efforts reportedly include assistance with securing and negotiating further loan deals, funding each week towards leisure activities and access to variable training facilities to keep players fresh.
"I've asked management to look at how we can look after the Warriors," ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys told the Sydney Morning Herald. "We will give them the same respect they have given us. We will look at all options.
"I can understand their frustrations, but we will look at every opportunity and every avenue to assist them. We are communicating with them regularly."