NRL Rd 4 - Roosters v Warriors
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 04: Addin Fonua-Blake of the Warriors sits on the bench after leaving the filed injured during the round four NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the New Zealand Warriors at Sydney Cricket Ground, on April 04, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

The New Zealand Warriors have announced that their official plans to return home and play for premiership points this winter have hit a roadblock.

Warriors CEO Cameron George confirmed that the Kiwi franchise's Round 15 clash against Penrith will no longer take place at Mount Smart Stadium.

With New Zealand's government announcing that they would be reopening borders gradually due to caution from COVID, the clash originally scheduled to take place on Saturday, June 18 has now been cancelled.

The fixture was originally meant to become the Warriors' first game in front of their loyal fans in 1023 days and their latest since tackling South Sydney on August 30, 2019.

Speaking within a statement released on Friday afternoon, George claimed he was crestfallen with the decision to delay.

“While the Government can speculate all it likes about these timings, it has, however, been proven over and over that there’s no place for guesswork in navigating this pandemic,” he said.

“We remain desperate to bring the team home to play at Mount Smart but it’s not possible to do so in June with the obstacles this Government has put in place. We’ve been forced into a corner.

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“All we can do is work with the facts and the fact is it’s impossible to expect NRL teams to isolate for seven days after arriving in New Zealand. Penrith, for example, plays the previous Sunday so it can’t even do the seven days before our game.

“With the time frames involved we had to make this call now. There are so many moving parts to this like television schedules, venues, travel, accommodation and more.

“We can’t sit around speculating so once again, our fans, sponsors and the people of New Zealand miss out on live sporting content. The Government needs to correct the isolation process so Trans-Tasman sport can happen in New Zealand again.”

The Warriors were scheduled to play a total of five matches in Auckland this year, with matches against the Tigers (Round 16), Storm (Round 20), Bulldogs (Round 22) and Titans (Round 25) set to follow the now-abandoned Panthers future.

George remained optimistic and hopeful that the four remaining fixtures on the Warriors' return home can remain as scheduled.

“Hopeful is all we can be. July is meant to be the next step towards reconnecting the world to New Zealand but no one can be certain that will work out,” George added.

“Throughout this pandemic we have consistently made decisions based on facts.

“While we’ve wanted to come home, our priority has been to ensure we have stability for our players and families while also doing what’s best for the competition.”

The Warriors will begin their 2022 campaign against St George Illawarra on Saturday, March 12 at Sunshine Stadium.