<
>

Warriors cleared to fly to Australia, will arrive on Sunday afternoon

The Warriors will arrive in Tamworth on Sunday afternoon, allowing all NRL clubs to recommence training on Monday ahead of the planned May 28 restart.

Australian Rugby League Council chairman Peter V'Landys on Saturday morning confirmed the Warriors had been granted special exemption to fly into Australia amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the travelling party to complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine period on arrival.

"This is an excellent outcome for rugby league and another step towards the competition resuming on May 28," V'Landys said.

"I want to thank the Federal and State Governments, in particular Border Force and NSW State Emergency Centre for their assistance in making the Warriors arrival a reality.

"The club will follow the strictest biosecurity protocols and, like all clubs, will participate in an education day about the protocols on Monday morning."

The Warriors' chances of flying across the Tasman had appeared bleak on Friday with conflicting reports emerging about a potential border exemption circulating throughout the afternoon.

Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison said no authority had been granted when he fronted the media on Friday afternoon.

Warriors chief executive Cameron George said it had been an exhausting exercise until he at last received confirmation the club was cleared for takeoff early on Saturday morning.

"It has been a whirlwind of a 72 hours but we've always been very respectful of the process and we understand the scrutiny of our exemption application would have went through and we get that," Warriors chief executive Cameron George told Fox Sports.

"So to get the go-ahead today is a big relief for our club, our players and certainly the families that are supporting the players because we do have some certainty and we can get on with confirming other plans."

"It sort of ebbed and flowed, I was talking with the players at certain times ... we were getting advice that we might not get approval at this point in time so therefore we had to have more conversations with the players and the staff and so on.

"So we tried to hold the ship as steady as we could through the waters but it wasn't until Peter V'Landys rung me very early this morning to give me the heads-up that paperwork was coming and I was then able to communicate that to our playing group and also our staff and that was a lot of relief."

George also revealed how Tamworth became what will be a temporary home for the Warriors.

"Last Thursday night I got notification that the [planned location] in northern NSW wasn't going to be suitable for a few reasons, so therefore quickly we had to find another one," George said.

"I spoke to Kevin Anderson, the local member for [NSW] parliament for Tamworth and between himself and Rod Laing, the CEO of the West Tamworth Leagues Club, who have got a great facility, we put something together and in three or four hours we had it locked away.

"From that point onwards we had to look at turning Tamworth Airport into an international landing pad. We had to change planes because of the weight-bearing aspect of the runway - I've had to learn a lot about airports recently - and from there we had to talk about quarantining Scully Park and West Tamworth Leagues Club, and there's been numerous people that have helped us with that.

"We're very grateful for a lot of things; the government of Australia and also NSW State Government; Kevin Anderson's been a fantastic member that's been able to pull this together.

"So we'll go there for quarantine for a couple of weeks and then we'll probably move closer to Sydney [after that] but we're still working through that as the season draw unfolds; there's still a little bit of work to do but at least we've got a place to go and train for a couple of weeks."