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Warriors NRLW side set for mass changes, Sydney move

Kiwi Ferns representative Jules Newman is among a host of Warriors players expected to withdraw from the NRLW as Project Apollo officials finalise a contingency plan for the competition.

Newman took to Instagram to confirm she won't take part in season three of the NRLW and it's understood many of her teammates are likely to follow suit with the squad set to be based in Sydney for at least a five-week period.

Logistical issues around international border control and future bubble restrictions have NRL and Project Apollo officials scrambling for resolutions since confirmation of the NRLW's go-ahead in June.

"Even though I am fit and ready to hit the field, I have come to the realisation my health, safety and equally my security is bigger than the game itself," Newman said.

"I am hoping our global pandemic improves as I don't intend for this to be my last campaign with the NZ Warriors women.

"I would like to wish my sisters all the very best returning to rugby league alongside friends and enjoy the pathway from there."

 
 
 
 
 
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It’s with a heavy heart that I have chosen to retract my availability for NRLW 2020. I’ve spent the last 6 months training day in and day out for this opportunity. I’ve shed a lot of sweat and tears over my rehab journey especially during lockdown. I have been my harshest critic during times where I should have been a bit more lenient on myself. I have made a number of large sacrifices to my work and personal life & equally put a lot of unnecessary pressure on specialist in their field (My Surgeon, My Physiotherapists, My Strength & Conditioning Coaches) and more importantly my Whānau to help get me to where I am Today. I had planned strategically month by month since I found out I ruptured my ACL on certain goals that needed to be reached in order to ensure I made it back in time specifically for NRLW 2020. I never accepted a “No” or “This is unrealistic Jules” as reason for me to slow down. Warriors NRLW is not an environment where I believe the Jersey just gets given to someone. It’s earned. It comes with huge responsibility and history. The jersey is worn with an immense amount of Mana. And even though I am fit and ready to hit the field, the rise in COVID-19 in Australia along with a number of other leading factors that I have personally had to take on board has meant I have had to come to the realisation my health, safety and equally my security is bigger than the game itself. I would sincerely like to extend a huge gratitude to the @nzwarriors for all the care and support they have shown me since I’ve been involved in the club. I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment both as a player, as a role model & a fellow kiwi woman in league. I wouldn’t have been able to have bounced back as fast nor keep my spirits as high as I have, if it wasn’t for the support of the club by Opening up the facilities & resources for anything I required. I personally am hoping our global pandemic improves as I don’t intend for this to be my last campaign with the NZ Women’s Warriors but for now, I would like to wish my sisters all the very best in this campaign while I intend to focus on returning to rugby league alongside friends and enjoy the pathway from there — 💚💙❤️

A post shared by Jules Newman🤫 (@_joolzee_) on

Warriors CEO Cameron George suggested last month the likely scenario for a Warriors team to take part in the competition would be to outsource the team while maintaining the club's colours.

It's now understood to be a reality Project Apollo will put forward to the ARL Commission and Warriors players.

"There might be a few options where we can have our colours play in Australia with a team based out of Sydney to fulfil our spot in the NRLW," George told reporters in a recent video conference.

"If individuals wish to get an exemption and go across because their work schedules and personal circumstances allow that, we will try and facilitate that."

NRL.com understands incumbent Warriors players will need to commit to an Australian move for at least five weeks, but in return would have to sacrifice time away from family and employment.

The commitment would include New Zealand-based players going into a 14-day quarantine when arriving into the country as per Australian government guidelines.

It's understood only a handful of players are expected to agree to the terms with the remaining spots to be filled by players in the NSW Harvey Norman women's premiership and Queensland's Holcim Cup.

Those Australian-based players are not expected to join a bubble-style squad with their Warriors teammates and relocate during the week.

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The decision could also have an impact on recently appointed coach Slade Griffin, who is based in Auckland and is no guarantee to take on the role.

The Warriors will have a month to lock in players with the contract window for NRLW deals to start from August 17.

Clubs will need to finalise their squads by September 15 with the competition due to commence on October 3.