Devastated Warriors fear NRL call could kill off season
The New Zealand Warriors fear the NRL's push to restart the competition in June will force them to sit out the rest of this season.
But Warriors chief executive Cameron George is adamant his club will survive the turmoil.
"If we can't compete this year, for whatever reason, and the comp still goes ahead, we would cheer loud and proud for the footy world," George told The Daily Telegraph.
While the other 15 clubs will be ready to go for an earlier-than-expected resumption, New Zealand's national lockdown and current international travel bans will make it difficult for the Warriors to rejoin the competition so quickly.
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Only Australian citizens and residents are presently allowed to travel here from New Zealand and the ban is not expected to be lifted anytime soon.
The NRL has no plans to bring in a substitute team if the Warriors are stuck in New Zealand when the NRL resumes.
"It would be devastating for us," George said about a possible withdrawal from this year's competition.
"Devastating for our fans, sponsors and the club, full stop.
"But we would have to say: 'OK, this is what it is' and start planning for 2021. We would just have to live with it and move on. There's not much we can do.
"In the event our team can't travel, that's clearly going to be a major issue. You've got your players, salary cap, coaching staff all stuck in this country.
"To try and facilitate a plan B, I would think there is one. If someone else has one, give me a call.
"There is the international border scenario. It's one thing for us to get back together but then it's about getting out of the country and into Australia. That's the biggest challenge in front of us.
"I suppose in the best interests of the game, that (a 15-team competition) is something that would have to do.
"It won't be through a lack of trying from our end but if it's a Government policy here and in Australia, we'd just have to play ball with that.
"There would certainly be some pretty big decisions on how we would model our business in the short-term and then start to rebuild going into 2021.
"If we're not in the competition, we have a heap of players. What do they do?
"There is a fair bit of time there if we're not in the competition. The club becomes a dormant process.
"I'm sure we have the right resources come November 1 to start the pre-season training program and be ready for 2021. That might mean we all have a break on the sidelines."
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One fewer game each round would ensure a reduced television deal, while a bye would be the likely option should New Zealand have to pull out.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys is confident the Warriors will be part of this year's premiership.
"Naturally we want the Warriors in and I'm confident that will happen," V'landys said. "Especially after the selfless actions they took previously for the benefit of the game. That will never be forgotten.
"They sacrificed everything for the game - I don't forget loyalty like that. And again now they are showing selflessness."
An innovations committee, headed by former champion player Wayne Pearce, will discuss the Warriors' plight on Thursday.
"We have a lot of people coming off contract," George asked. "What would that mean? Is there any dispensation provided to them for next year?
"If the competition gets off the ground, is there any funding back to our club during this period?
"If that's an issue then the NRL would have to look at a 15-team competition and get it off the ground for the fans.
"That's the most important thing for broadcasters, to try and get some sort of action happening in terms of a competition.
"We are not in any shape or form thinking about not being in the comp in the future. We're adamant we will get through this and survive the financial headwinds.
"I'm optimistic things are starting to take shape over here and go in the right direction.
"I'm hearing a lot of different things that the Government may start relaxing (the lockdown) in the next couple of weeks."
Originally published as Devastated Warriors fear NRL call could kill off season