New Zealand fighters have confirmed that David Fusitu’a, Ken Maumalo, Agnatius Paasi and King Vuniya compounds will return home after the 11th round match against the Sydney Roosters.
A few weeks ago, it was reported three Warriors players will return to New Zealand if their family is not given an exception to join them in Australia at the end of round ten.
Coach Todd Payten confirmed that all the troops were committed to living in Australia although key players return home.
Warriors players have been convinced that their families will be able to join them in Australia when they find a moat to restart the competition in the third round.
However, that is not possible with a number of families who cannot obtain exceptions.
While the deadline is at the end of round ten, the club has decided for the players and families to make a decision now so that they and the team can continue the season.
Payten resigned to the players who left after their nine-round loss to the Titans and now will be without four key players for most of the season.
In a statement released today, the club confirmed that all four players had been booked on flights to return to New Zealand on Monday 27 July.
It was set earlier but due to lack of flight availability, it was the earliest date the players could go home.
“We cannot say enough about the sacrifices they have made because they are far from their families,” said Warriors CEO Cameron George.
“We fully understand the difficulties they face and we really appreciate what they have done in the struggle for what they did.
“When we travel to Australia we promise the players everything that is possible in our control will be done to secure travel exceptions for their families to join them there.
“In the end the decision is for the government agency to approve the application made by NRL on our behalf. There are no signs of favorable results, which we receive is always a possibility.
“Given the circumstances, David, Ken, Agantius and King are free to go home.”
Speaking to the media on Wednesday, George confirmed that the changing situation in Australia with rising COVID-19 levels in Victoria and NSW did play a role in moving the decision forward.
“In Australia, there must have been significant changes that were not positive,” said George.
“So under those circumstances. I think we are becoming real about the situation and the exception to Australia at the moment, I think, you know, is still a long way off.
“So with that in mind, it is best for us to be proactive and confirm the position of the men and return home and reunite the family as soon as possible.”
While there is a possibility that all four players could be involved again in 2020, George resigned himself to the fact that they would not be able to perform.
With the two-week quarantine period required for each travel sector, it’s hard to imagine players wanting to fly back without their families again.
The players also have to wait 14 more days after arriving in New Zealand before they can see their families.
“In such a situation, I don’t expect the players to participate at all for the rest of the season for the club,” said George.
“Given the time frame for where the season is scheduled to end, the fact that you have to quarantine when you get home and the reasons for returning home.
“What is truly unfortunate for our team, our fans and so on, but the decision is based on loving reasons that we fully support, and … it is always a choice because their families cannot get liberation to Australia.”
As for substitutes, George said discussions were ongoing with NRL about how they could replace four players.
Fusitu’a, Maumalo and Paasi were all named in Warriors 17 for this Sunday’s match against Cronulla Sharks.
They also have to replace Leivaha Pulu returned to New Zealand two weeks ago for family reasons.
“We are busy now trying to see what is the best choice going forward,” said George.
“But you know the reality of five players, three of them are in the starting 17 this week and they are big contributors to our performance and the results of our team week after week, week-out.
“Whether we try and promote from the inside or get external support is still undetermined but it gets harder and harder as the years go on because other clubs get injured to try and find the loan player.”
George also has a message for those who are critical of the players’ decision to go home with their families and believe that there needs to be a better level of understanding.
“For our fans, these people are in very challenging times and they do it hard personally and they miss their families,” said George.
“I know one thing that needs to be clarified, it is a commitment that everything will be done to bring their families there.
“And without that, I always say they can go home.
“I will not be too critical of the decisions that have been made.”
For my health and the health of our baby, we need David at home. We need it at home for a while.
And David, for being the best husband and soon to be a father ? https://t.co/tLVCq7s3O9
– Eden Fusitu’a (@edenfusitua) July 15, 2020
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