The New Zealand Warriors have confirmed they will be based in Redcliffe during the 2022 NRL season.
The club were attempting to make plans to return to Auckland, but with border instability caused by the ongoing COVID outbreak first in Sydney, but then spreading to Melbourne, Canberra and into New Zealand, there was no reasonable way for the club to get home.
Pre-season training is scheduled to start in November, and the Warriors will be based in Redcliffe for the entirety of it, owing to their relationship with feeder club the Redcliffe Dolphins.
The Dolphins are currently attempting to make their way into the NRL themselves, with the Australian Rugby League Commission set to select an expansion club in October following all three bids making presentations recently.
The Warriors haven't ruled out the prospect of playing up to half their home games in Auckland in 2022 though, pending border restrictions.
Whichever games can't be held in Auckland will be played at the Moreton Daily Stadium in Redcliffe, which has hosted plenty of NRL at the back end of this season.
Warriors' CEO Cameron George said in a statement on the club website that while the dream hasn't changed to return to Auckland, this was the most realistic option for stability at the club.
“Our dream hasn’t changed. We’d love to be back in Auckland playing at home in front of our families, members, fans and sponsors next year but we also have to ensure everyone here has some stability in their lives,” he said.
“With the preseason starting in early November we don’t have much time to work with.
“We can’t get our players, staff and families back to New Zealand in the foreseeable future so we need to have a base here, not to mention considering all the needs of our players, families and staff like accommodation, schools and job opportunities for partners.
“The Dolphins have got great facilities for our training needs and a wonderful venue in the Moreton Daily Stadium for the home games we’ll play there. This gives us some certainty about our plans for 2022. We couldn’t be more grateful."
George confirmed the club wanted to play up to half their home games in Auckland if possible.
“At the same time, we are leaving the option open to play games back home," he said.
“We’re just hoping the landscape will settle down to enable us to play five or six of our home games in New Zealand during the 2022 season.”