Warriors coach Stephen Kearney offered no guarantees his team would remain in Australia beyond Saturday’s game with Canberra as shocked players came to grips with the fallout to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Warriors settled into a new training base at Kingscliff on the NSW North Coast on Monday, desperately awaiting a shipment of training gear, footballs and other essentials to begin preparations for the clash with the Raiders that has been relocated to Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast due to New Zealand and Australia travel restrictions.
The game was originally due to be played at Auckland's Eden Park as a Super Rugby double-header with the Blues also hosting the Brumbies.
Chief executive Cameron George and chairman Rob Croot have also issued a club statement to say the club was dealing with the impact of the "the application of border restrictions limiting travel between New Zealand and Australia together with an Australian government directive that requires matches to be played behind closed doors until further notice".
Kearney said his team’s focus was solely on this week’s game and wouldn’t commit his team to anything beyond Saturday.
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"It’s an unprecedented situation but the lads are fine at the moment and we’re preparing for a match on Saturday. We just get on with the job and we will see what happens next," Kearney said.
"What we are prepared for is training tomorrow and preparing for round two of competition. That’s probably the best answer I can give you.
"If that scenario presents itself like you’ve spoken about [staying in Australia] and we have to be here for three weeks or four weeks we will worry about that on Sunday or after the game on Saturday afternoon.
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"Our focus is purely making sure we’re preparing well for an improved performance on Saturday."
The Warriors will head into Saturday's clash with just 20 NRL-contracted players available for selection.
The Auckland-based franchise was unable to get forward Josh Curran into Australia from New Zealand before the 14-day self-isolation measures went into effect at midnight on Sunday.
With Patrick Herbert and Peta Hiku having returned to New Zealand to be with family, that left the Warriors with 15 of their players who took the field in the round-one loss to the Knights in Newcastle.
In addition to that, their five remaining available top 30 players – Adam Keighran, Leivaha Pulu, Hayze Perham, Karl Lawton and Adam Pompey – stayed in Australia after serving as first-grade cover or playing in the club's Canterbury Cup side in Newcastle.
Development players Rocco Berry, Paul Turner and Tom Ale have also stayed on in Australia, as well as part-time squad member Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard.
"We are on the Gold Coast, we're training, our boys are committed to getting to the game on the weekend and giving it their best shot under the circumstances," George said.
"As a club we have been very busy today organising what we can and planning the foreseeable future, which is difficult in the circumstances."
When George was asked about ARL chairman Peter V'landys saying the NRL can go ahead without the Warriors, he said it was the harsh reality of the situation.
"It's just difficult for everyone at the end of the day. We will be guided by what our club and group decide. That's the priority for me, to make sure we get that right, and then we can work out the outcome of that and what it means for the competition one way or another.
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"At the end of the day we would love the competition to continue in one way, shape or form. Whether it's a shortened version or an existing version, or whatever it be. There's so many fans in Australia and New Zealand that love the game and it's important in so many people's lives."
George is in continual dialogue with the players and off-field staff about whether they want to stay in Australia after this weekend.
"It happens every day. I spoke to Stephen Kearney today just to get a feeling about the players, what they are thinking. We have spoken to a number of the partners and wives as well," he said.
"We are just keeping our finger on the pulse in regard to that. At the end of the day it's a daily update, an hourly update, and we will see where that lands over the next six days.
Kearney and skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck refused to offer an opinion on whether the Telstra Premiership should continue during the pandemic, but both said they expected the situation would reach its own conclusion sooner rather than later.
"We’re trying to predict the future here [by talking about what happens next]. I’m looking at the situation developing but I’m pretty certain over the next couple of days and next week I’m pretty sure it’s going to resolve itself," Kearney said.
"I think if I’m looking at the situation as has been touched on globally in terms of competition and what has gone on I anticipate the situation will sort itself out."
Tuivasa-Sheck said the players had overcome the initial shock of being told they must remain in Australia to play round two and praised the logistical work of his club to ensure his team felt minimal disruption.
As it stands the club has just 10 footballs with them, a backpack full of clothes each, limited training equipment, enough strapping tape to last until Thursday and no video cameras to film sessions.
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Rival clubs have offered the Warriors everything from training gear to video cameras to assist them during their extended stay.
The Titans have offered their drone equipment to film sessions, while their clothing supplier Canterbury has sent additional gear for the players until a shipment of their own gear arrives from New Zealand on Thursday.
The club has 24 players staying at Kingscliff so will be able to name a full 21-man squad on Tuesday, but with development players among the group they may be unable to field a proper team if injuries strike.
"Yeah we were in shock, we pretty much found out the news as soon as we walked off the park in Newcastle," Tuivasa-Sheck said.
"We’ve finally got a bit of clarity and just ready to move on now.
"We’ve been told a lot of times over last two days or 24 hours there is so much change so what we can do as a club and playing group is just focus on the day by day."
The Kiwi Test fullback said he held no concerns for his health by continuing to play football and had full faith in the NRL to make the right call about player welfare and safety during this time.
"You know the NRL and everyone here has done all their research. We’re just taking their advice of playing and at this stage we feel safe," he said.
"We feel safe and we just go with what the NRL and Todd [Greenberg] are talking about and just get on with it."
According to the club statement, the team's outlook for the Warriors is "unclear after round two".
"The landscape around the COVID-19 crisis is changing rapidly, so we are monitoring the situation and working closely with our governing body and the club’s owners to consider all options.
"There is a lot to take into account, so as a club we now need time to assess this situation before providing any further communications and appreciate your patience while we work through this unprecedented situation.
"Now, as much as ever, we value your support and understanding. The Vodafone Warriors community has been built on its resilience and we know we will work through these current challenges together. This spirit is the very essence of 'All In'."