Speculation is growing as to whether the New Zealand Warriors will make the Central Coast their home base for the remainder of the shortened NRL season.
The Warriors flew into Tamworth early in the week commencing May 4 for two weeks of quarantine and light training, after gaining clearance by the Australian and NZ governments to make the international flight.
Tamworth locals rolled out the red carpet for the visitors and quickly re-labelled them the “Tamworth Warriors”.
But the club has made it clear that it does not intend to remain in Tamworth beyond the quarantine period and is looking to establish a base closer to Sydney.
In a zoom interview for the NRL, Warriors CEO, Cameron George, said “we’ll get through the quarantine process and then, with all intents and purpose, we’re probably going to locate at the Central Coast.”
“There’s a facility there where we’ll be able to accommodate all the families as they eventually come over throughout the year.”
The NRL season is set to recommence from May 28 and it is yet to be communicated what the strategy for playing venues will be, including whether clubs will host games at their home grounds or whether the NRL will identify just two or three grounds where all games will be played.
“We’d be close to Sydney and close to Newcastle [so] the ideal scenario would be the Central Coast, but that could differ from the NRL’s views,” George said.
Under the Australian Institute of Sport’s return to sport guidelines, NRL sides are currently in the Level B stage of training, which does not permit tackling or wrestling drills, only ball work and conditioning.
Teams are then expected to return to full contact training by May 15.
During this time, teams will also be subjected to strict biosecurity protocols, including regular health checks and disinfecting of training equipment.
Warriors Coach, Steve Kearney, said 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.
Captain, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, said most players were “blowing hard” after their first group hit-out in Tamworth”.
A spokesperson for Central Coast Council on Thursday confirmed that the Council is currently in discussions with the New Zealand Warriors to train at Central Coast Stadium.
Source: NRL.com Reporter: Ross Barry