Warriors ready to battle second NRL season away from home

On the cusp of their second NRL season based in Australia the hurdles facing the Warriors are just as big as ever.

The club has already been in Australia in for two months under the guidance of new coach Nathan Brown and they take on Gold Coast in their opening game tomorrow.

On the upside they've brought in some new players to bolster the side, but back in Auckland the accountants are looking at the books with the franchise facing financial hardship and the stress of being away from home is taking it's toll.

A good end to an average year for the warriors beating Manly but ultimately finishing tenth after a tumultuous 2020.

Forced to be based in Australia due to COVID-19 the relocation affected the club's performances on the field and it's finances off it.

Across the Tasman at least until June the 21st, Warriors boss Cameron George says they're a long way away from breaking even in 2021.

"Our memberships are very low because the New Zealand based members aren't buying their memberships like normal because we're not at home and I get that and then the New South Wales people aren't buying memberships to support us because we might not be here for that long either so we're stuck between a rock and a hard place," he said.

Most of the players with families have their tamariki and partners with them and George says their happy in Australia.

He said it's the backroom staff who are doing it toughest.

"There's a lot of staff here without their families and it's a pretty torrid time for them so we just gotta keep an eye on them and it might be if we can get half the borders open we might rotate a few of the staff back home to spend some school holiday's with their kids because they're dearly missing them."

New coach, Nathan Brown, the Warrior's third in twelve months, is hoping the club's struggles over the last year will only make them stronger.

"I just think the true experience you know the club's better prepared, obviously last year COVID was new to everyone all over the world where now there's a lot of things around the world that have changed and the experiences that we all gained out of last year are gonna help us and having families here and kids at school and a bit of certainty definitely helps," he said.

While the Warriors hope to be back in Auckland for the round of 16 game against the Dragons it all relies on a two-way trans-Tasman travel bubble opening and the Warriors may spend the whole season in Australia.

Despite the obstacles the club faces, former coach Matthew Elliot, believes they're a genuine contender to be the competition's dark horse.

"They're a team I think that might shock a few people this year particularly if they can start being a player driven team rather than a coach driven team."

Elliot said under a new coach it's key that players step up as leaders including captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

The star fullback is moving to rugby and the blues next year with many pundits questioning whether his mind will wander in his final year at the Warriors.

Elliot believes that won't be a problem.

"He's one of the most focused people I've ever worked with even as an 18 year-old so Roger's gonna be focused on not the All Black's Roger's going to be focused on playing his best footy for the Warriors and that's all."

With the bookies predicting the Warriors to again finish outside the top eight they'll need Tuivasa-Sheck and all their players to produce consistent performances if they're to defy those odds.


Photo Caption: Warriors boss Cameron George