Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's season is over after he suffered a hamstring injury against Canberra but the Warriors captain won't return to New Zealand until the team does.
Tuivasa-Sheck, who went off after 60 minutes in the 26-14 loss at GIO Stadium, hasn't seen his wife and two children in nearly five months after the Warriors relocated to NSW's Central Coast to keep the competition running amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fullback has missed milestones like his son crawling for the first time and interim coach Todd Payten would like to send his skipper on an early flight home, but it's not feasible with travel restrictions.
"We spoke about it last week [after being knocked out of finals contention], putting him on a commercial flight, but he'll get home quicker on a charter [with the team]," Payten said.
"I know he's counting down the days … After last weekend's game, his wife Ash was relieved that we got beat. I can't hold that against the kid."
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Payten said the loss to the Raiders "hurts - I didn’t think we made them earn enough of their points" but he lauded his side's spirit.
"I'm really proud of this group of men, they've changed my life. I owe them a whole debt of gratitude," said Payten, who has earned a gig at the Cowboys in 2021 on the back of the Warriors' efforts.
"I'll always be grateful for the opportunity they've given me and my family moving forward."
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Prop Lachlan Burr was strong for the Warriors, engaging in a running battle with Josh Papalii, and Payten hopes the off-contract 27-year-old is signed by an NRL club next season.
"I thought Lachy was outstanding - if he wasn't our best, he was in the top two," Payten said.
"He's a fit middle forward, he's aggressive, he didn't take a backward step. I thought his line-speed and contact was really good. He carried the ball really strong too.
"I've got a lot of time for the kid. He works hard, trains hard … Whether he gets [a contract] here or somewhere else, he is a first-grader. He's played every game this year.
"Another guy I thought was really good was [winger] Adam Pompey.
"If there's one thing we've learnt in the last four or five weeks it's that he's a first-grader as well.
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"There are some real positives to come out of what we've gone through as a club."
As for what he wants the Warriors to produce against Manly on Sunday to conclude his stint in charge, Payten said: "Enjoyment, pride, credibility.
"If we don't show the same effort that we've shown for the last 10 weeks, we'll have some people saying it's the same old Warriors."