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Players, travelling staff find peace after reuniting with loved ones

Sharks forward Aaron Woods plans to make up for lost time and build a connection with his three-week-old daughter Coco Rae after his family were allowed out of quarantine on Wednesday afternoon.

Woods made a mad dash to Queensland to join his Sharks teammates last month after his wife Sarah gave birth to the couple's second child in Sydney.

The Sharks captain has reverted to FaceTime and photos to stay in contact with Sarah and his two-year-old son Buster, who have been in 14-day isolation in a Gold Coast hotel with their newborn baby.

Sarah's miraculous effort of relocating to Queensland six days after giving birth highlights the sacrifices players and families were willing to make.

Sydney-based families were allowed out of quarantine for the first time in two weeks on Wednesday to join their partners in the NRL bubble.

"I've only seen my daughter for an hour in the three weeks she's been born so I'm looking forward to trying to get a connection there," Woods said on Wednesday.

Happy Dragons reunited with families

"They've done it quite tough being in lockdown. She's been on level 7 and 8 [at the quarantine hotel] so couldn't leave the room at all.

"She's taken one for the team. The two-year old has been driving her nuts. She can't wait to get out of that room.

"I'm sick of looking at my kids over FaceTime. I can't wait to see the little fella."

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Aaron Woods (@woodsy2040)

Woods said the most difficult part has been not being able to connect with his family after a game, but given how tough many people are doing it around the country, he wasn't complaining.

"It's been testing times but it's nowhere near testing as those around us losing their jobs," he said.

"If that's all I'm complaining about then I've got it pretty easy at the moment.

"It's just been hard when you lose after a game, especially when you go back to your hotel room, you're by yourself, you bang your head against the wall asking what I did wrong tonight.

"Normally you go home and your missus tells you to pull your head in. It will be good to have them just to switch off.

"It's been awesome to hang around the boys every day but sometimes you just need that release to get away."

Making life a little bit easier for families during their relocation has been the help of some of the NRL’s commercial partners including:

  • Telstra has provided Xbox subscriptions for three months
  • Chemist Warehouse has delivered 600 Johnson and Johnson care packs;
  • Door Dash donated 400 vouchers for food, groceries and more; 
  • The NRL’s community coffee partner 254 has chipped in with cold brew, thermoses and treats; 
  • KFC delivered family feasts in time for kick-off; 
  • Hasbro kept everyone amused with board games and nerf guns for the little and big kids; 
  • Therabody dispatched wellness kits and products to clubs to give players access to peak performance;
  • Anaconda also helped out with scooters for kids as well.

Further north and the Knights have had their families join them in the past week on the Sunshine Coast and coach Adam O'Brien said it had contributed to their recent performance against the Raiders.

"It's given us a bit of energy boost," O'Brien said.

"It was a bit of a hump week for us. Not only for the guys who are attached to those families but the single guys got an energy boost with the kids here.

Old Tiger Woods open to homecoming

"I have a tough time keeping Kalyn [Ponga] and Connor [Watson] away from running all the kids activities. They've been amazing.

"I think it's great the NRL have allowed us to have that support network here.

"It's not easy. I know we're in a resort that is an amazing place and they're doing a great job looking after us but you've away from your home so I applaud the NRL for making it available to have our loved ones with us."

Warriors utility Jazz Tevaga, who doesn't have a support network with him in Australia, said the players would get a huge boost when their families arrive to the hotel.

"A lot of the boys are struggling here without their partners and kids, so there'll be a lot of happy boys that get to see their missus and their kids," he said.

Fellow Warrior Marcelo Montoya said that despite not having his partner with him in Queensland he had gained a greater appreciation for the influence families have on a player.

"For me it's hard because she's back in Sydney, but in saying that, I'm very grateful because there are families who have had to move up and move households," he said.

"For me, it's just packing up my own bags. It hasn't been too tough."