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Warriors weighing up call on return home or stay season in Central Coast

Warriors officials are set to make a decision on when the team will return to New Zealand after a meeting with the NRL next week.

The Warriors are due to play their first match on home soil since 2019 on July 2 against St George Illawarra but that is now under review after the New Zealand government re-introduced restrictions on travellers from NSW following a new COVID case in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

While the travel ban was lifted on Monday after three days, it would have played havoc with the Warriors schedule - if the team had been based back in Auckland - for last Sunday’s match against Manly as they would have had to organise flights to Sydney on Thursday with little notice or postpone the game.

"We would have been rushed off to Manly or we might not have got to Manly and then we wouldn’t have got home," Warriors CEO Cameron George said. "We might have had to do two weeks' quarantine."

George stressed that no decision had yet been made to defer plans for the Warriors to return home after their round-15 match against Newcastle on June 19 but players will now remain in Australia during the team’s round-13 bye.

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"It’s obviously a risk for everyone at the moment so we have to be very sensible with how we address it," George said. "We are all having meetings next week around that.

"Nothing has changed but we will be confirming our position late next week. That is our tipping point.

"We are going through the process, as we have every other time, and we will be in a position to confirm what we are doing one way or another next week."

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It is believed the Warriors are considering maintaining their base on the Central Coast for the remainder of the season and flying to and from Auckland for some home matches to minimise the risk of players being stuck in New Zealand if the border was to close again.

Unlike last year, players and staff have their families with them in Australia and are settled at Terrigal, with the team initially planning to stay until the end of the first school term in NSW and then extending their stay for the second term.

The team is performing reasonably well on the field, having won four of their opening nine matches and lost three games by six points or less, and there is a belief they can make the finals for the first time since 2018 and just the second time in a decade.

There is also a good vibe within the camp on the Central Coast, and players are concerned if there was a COVID-19 outbreak after the team returned to New Zealand, they could be separated from their families again.

However, fans and sponsors are keen for the Warriors to play at Mt Smart Stadium as the team’s last home appearance in New Zealand was on August 30, 2019 against South Sydney.

The Warriors were forced to relocate last season after New Zealand’s borders were closed on March 15, 2019 and quarantine-free trans-Tasman travel only resumed last month.

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