AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 02: The Warriors look dejected after a Raiders try during the round 20 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Canberra Raiders at Mt Smart Stadium on August 02, 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

The NRL is weighing up using a radical solution of loaning players from rival clubs to the Warriors to ensure eight matches are played each weekend.

With the Warriors staying in Australia to play the Raiders on the Gold Coast on Saturday, they have not given any long-term assurances of remaining in the country beyond this week.

According to the Daily Telegraph, one of the makeshift solutions to the issue includes forming a makeshift Warriors side composed of potential discards and veteran players from other clubs. This shows the NRL’s willingness to fulfill broadcasting commitments.

The team could potentially be mixed with Warriors players willing to remain in Australia and play out the season and others who cannot get playing time with their current side. The Warriors look set to receive large salary cap dispensations if the plan goes ahead and calls to rival clubs and player managers have been made.

Experienced players who participated in reserve-grade competitions last weekend such as Bryson Goodwin, Billy Magoulias, Mason Lino and Jayson Bukuya may be considered as well as players without NRL contracts such as Michael Lichaa, Josh Hoffman and Patrick Kaufusi.

This idea could also lead to budding first-grade stars such as Adam Clune, Jayden Sullivan and Stefano Utoikamanu being given top grade exposure.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg has stated they cannot force any player to remain in Australia. He will meet with Warriors players and officials following their match with the Raiders.

“They have given us an undertaking that they will get through round two and then my discussion with them is we will sit down with the players and management and assess that,” Greenberg said. “It’s possible for us to continue the competition if the Warriors want to go home. We want all 16 clubs being part of the competition. That step is a scenario and we will only get to after this weekend.

“(If the Warriors go home) we will be playing with 15 clubs not 16.”

“We’re not putting pressure on people. We are trying to look at it in the context of the whole competition.”

Kingscliff has become the Warriors base with travel restrictions keeping them in Australia if they want to continue playing. If they do return to Auckland, they must self-isolate for 14 days which ends any chance of matches being played for at least two weeks.
With outside back duo Pat Herbert and Peta Hiku returning home, Warriors coach Stephen Kearney has 24 players to pick from ahead of their clash with the Raiders. Likely replacement Taane Milne has been ruled out due to suffering a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury in the Canterbury Cup last week.

“Having Pet and Pat go home has put a bit of pressure on from that sense but we’re talking with the NRL at the moment,” Kearney said. “We’ve got enough guys here at the moment to cope with that.

“I’m picking that things will resolve itself over the next little bit.”

1 COMMENT

  1. I would be a bit dubious about this proposal working. If each club loaned one of their top 30 players it would be a much better option than the Warriors having discards in their team. The other alternative could be giving the 15 participating teams an extra bye.

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