The Warriors will have to wait even longer before playing in New Zealand again after their NRL clash against the Bulldogs – their first on home soil in more than 700 days – was cancelled on Monday.
In a statement, Warriors management said the Covid-19 outbreak in Sydney has forced the team to cancel plans for the homecoming match at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday, August 15.
The clash would have been the Warriors’ first and only game at their home venue this season, as they have been forced to spend most of the past two seasons based in Australia due to border restrictions. It was also set to double as a send off for departing captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who will join the Blues in Super Rugby next year.
The club also confirmed it was one of 12 clubs being relocated to South East Queensland for a period of at least four weeks, after 77 new community Covid-19 cases were reported in New South Wales on Sunday.
The Warriors, as well as the nine Sydney-based teams, the Canberra Raiders, and the Newcastle Knights have been given 48 hours notice to move north of the border by Wednesday.
At this stage, only the Melbourne Storm and the three Queensland-based teams will be allowed to stay at their home bases. Each club will be permitted to have a total of 41 people in their biosecure team ‘bubble’, which would likely include 30 players and 11 staff.
“We were all desperately looking forward to coming home for the game but the fact is we’re in the middle of a new crisis which leaves us with no other decision but to call the game off,” Warriors chief executive Cameron George said.
“While this is a huge blow for us as a club as well as for all our members, fans, families and sponsors there is simply too much risk and uncertainty.
“We appreciate the support the NRL gave us trying to make this game possible but we’re
committed to doing all we can to protect the competition and our players.”
Mt Smart was close to sold out for the Bulldogs game.
George said details would follow in the coming days about ticket refunds.
The game will still be played on August 15 at a yet to be confirmed venue.
The Warriors are languishing in 12th place on the NRL table with only five wins from 15 games, following their 20-12 defeat to the Sharks on Sunday.
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