Several of the New Zealand Warriors players have reportedly stated they wish to remain in Australia rather than return to New Zealand as the club prepares to head back to Auckland in July.
Euan Aitken, Matt Lodge and Reece Walsh are three players whose names have been brought up, with players either knocking back contracts or negotiating with other teams in an attempt to remain in Australia rather than relocate.
Aitken has already been released, however, it was reported last week that both Walsh and Lodge want to remain in Australia. Lodge has knocked back a sizeable contract extension, while Walsh is reportedly on the hunt for a release from the final year of his deal.
Former Warriors coach Tony Kemp admits that the club faces a serious problem if some of the Australian based players prefer to remain in their home country.
Speaking to SENZ Breakfast, Kemp explained how Aitken, Lodge and Walsh are likely set to stay rather than return to New Zealand with the club, and how the decision may affect that of the other Australian-based players in the Warriors side, theorising that up to six players could depart.
"It's a problem," Kemp said.
‘The contract isn’t good enough’, they offered [Matt Lodge] a big contract to stay but he wants to remain in Australia,”
“We’ve already seen Euan Aitken [opt to remain in Australia], and the rumour is if [the Dolphins] don’t get Kalyn Ponga they will go after Walsh next.
"Maybe half a dozen of them will stay back when they go to Mt Smart.”
Although Kemp explained he shared no resentment to any player that would opt to stay in Australia, the former coach stated that he feels the players are obliged to see out their contracts.
“With contracts, if you sign one, honour it,” Kemp said.
The Warriors take on the Cowboys this Friday for Round Five, with the Warriors looking to secure their third consecutive win as they travel to Moreton Daily Stadium.