Warriors veteran Adam Blair says every player has the backing of their teammates if they decide to go home to New Zealand for family reasons during the coronavirus pandemic.
Blair has revealed the team are trying to convince centre Peta Hiku not to return to Australia after he flew back to New Zealand after their round-one loss to Newcastle for the birth of his child.
The Kiwi forward was adamant the Warriors would not use their “unique situation” as an excuse for their performances in 2020, with the club relocating their team to Kingscliff on the NSW North Coast for an indefinite period so the NRL competition can continue amid the pandemic.
But the longer this saga drags on the more difficult it will be for the players and their families and Blair says it’s a daily discussion within the team camp and the option for players to choose to leave on their own is always on the table.
Blair said teammates were advising Hiku to remain with his family rather than rush back to Australia to resume playing.
"We’re trying to tell him not to come over," Blair said.
"We tell all the boys if they don’t want to be here because of their family then don’t stay and we support that throughout the group.
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"It gets harder and harder every day. For us we’re getting looked after pretty well but it’s our families at home that the pressure gets put on them.
"Especially the Aussie boys’ partners who don’t have family back home. New Zealand is getting stricter and they are one step away from being locked in their house and some of them don’t have family support so those are the hard things.
"We’re trying to make the most of a bad situation."
Blair got a taste of just how difficult life now is on his birthday on Friday when he was reduced to tears by a video message sent by his wife with their kids.
They’re among the lucky Warriors families who, with Australian passports, can actually join the team in Australia if the separation becomes too unbearable.
It’s not a decision they’ve made yet, but Blair knows it’s worth considering if New Zealand does go into total shutdown.
"You know, my wife is in her last year of uni. If she packs up now she fails," he said.
"She’s followed me everywhere I’ve gone and it’s always been about me so it’s hard for her to make a decision."
In the meantime the Warriors will attempt to create a home in Kingscliff and a normal life living inside the perimeter of a seaside resort.
For the moment, it’s the younger players who seem to be thriving the most on the field. But the Warriors know as a team they need to hold up their end of the bargain.
They need to be competitive. They need wins. They can’t let their fans at home or new supporters here in Australia down by not delivering strong performances.
"We are speaking about that all the time, let’s not use this as an excuse," Blair said.
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"In the last two games we’ve showed some really good signs as a group we’re progressing slowly.
"We’re stripped for numbers but a credit to those kids that have come in as they’ve been outstanding and performed for us.
"They never turned away or shied away from the tough stuff and that’s really good signs.
"We just have to put away all the noise on the outside which is pretty hard to make sure that we go out there and put on a performance that we’re proud of. If not It will make the time away from our families harder.
"All they want to do is go out there and see us perform well … we can’t go out there and get a scoreline like that all the time.
"We need to turn up, be competitive and work hard as a group. Keep driving high standards especially when we’re away from our home and the club.
"We have high standards back there and you know we have to keep living those standards here."