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Warriors-first mentality at forefront of Donald's NRLW campaign

He's instilled a culture within the Australian Jillaroos that is built on respecting the past and now Brad Donald plans to do similar for the Warriors when he leads them through a unique journey in the NRLW this season.

Donald will make his own sacrifices later this month when he and Jillaroos strength and conditioning coach Simon Buxton leave their families in Queensland to assemble a Warriors squad in Sydney that will be formed in extraordinary circumstances.

The pair will cast aside their national allegiances for the good of the game and look to create an experience for the makeshift squad that could emulate the men's team's current form and make an impact in the competition.

Five current Warriors players will place themselves in a 48-hour quarantine in New Zealand before travelling to Australia in the coming days, where they'll spend a further 14 days in isolation.

Warriors star Honey Hireme was a late withdrawal due to a knee injury.

"It's going to feel like a Warriors experience, not just a group of women coming from New Zealand to fill an Australian team," Donald told

"One of the big things I want to get across is that the Warriors girls are giving up so much they don't feel like they're just coming over to make up the numbers.

"There are two groups of people giving up the most – the girls who can't play across New Zealand and Australia.

"And then there's the group who will spend time in isolation. We owe it to them to put the best team around them and give them the best chance of performing."

Warriors star ruled out of NRLW season

Donald has already made solid ground in a bid to catch up to the rival three NRLW sides, who are well-advanced in their recruitment and football operations planning.

He's brought in former Jillaroo Lisa Fiaola, who has strong ties to New Zealand rugby league, as an assistant coach.

Former Roosters assistant coach Adam McEwen is also on board.

"Every element will be covered and we acknowledge the major stakeholders in this are the NZRL, Warriors and the NRL," Donald said.

"I've spoken to [former coach] Luisa Avaiki and the Warriors' staff to map out what they want to instil.

"We've asked about their traditions and rituals and what it means to pull on a Warriors jersey and we plan to really drive that home to the players.

"As we get this team together, and fortunately everyone is still playing some footy, we think we'll have a well-balanced group with a common goal."

Donald has begun the search for players to fill the spots, admitting there had been plenty of interest from girls looking to take part in the NRLW this season.

"We'll have a contingent training in Sydney and Queensland and then we'll bring all them all together when the Warriors girls are out of quarantine," Donald said.

"We're going to have virtual training sessions, Zoom calls and WhatsApp groups up and running.

"We'd even consider assembling the team wherever the Warriors girls end up quarantining in with the sense then that the rest of the team is going to come to them but we'll wait and see on that one."

Quick fix for the chicks: Contracts served

Donald said Buxton had been working with the half dozen incumbents on programs and the pair were determined to sign players who would fit the bill of having the club's best interests at heart.

"If there are players here in Australia that New Zealand is their pathway they're a priority to get in and help support the Kiwis," he said.

"If we can get some players with NRLW experience that's going to be key as well. There are a lot of development players who are playing great footy and looking for an opportunity.

"It's now just about getting the balance right."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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