Coronavirus: NRL return on May 28 on track as NZ Warriors cleared to fly to Australia

The NRL has cleared another hurdle ahead of its planned return at the end of May after the New Zealand Warriors were cleared to enter Australia.

The Warriors squad will fly into Tamworth, a regional hub to the north of Sydney, on a specially-chartered flight on Sunday to begin the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

Matches are scheduled to begin on May 28, resuming a season which had to be stopped in March after only two rounds because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Warriors are scheduled to stay in Australia until international travel restrictions are removed, giving them the chance to resume playing games in Auckland.

“We have never wavered in our commitment to be involved in supporting the resumption of the season,” Warriors CEO Cameron George said.

“We’re now ready to go and couldn’t be happier about the prospect of being back on the field at the end of the month.

“It has been a challenging and often frustrating time for all parties over the last few weeks with so many issues on the table but it has finally come together as of today.

“We’re exceptionally grateful to both the Australian and New South Wales governments for granting us an exemption and we respect the process they’ve had to work through.”

Restrictions placed on movement inside Australia are starting to be relaxed, with Queensland’s government confirming on Friday that NRL teams would be able to cross state borders even if the broader public had not been allowed to.

The country has recorded only 93 deaths from COVID-19, among 6,700 reported cases, while New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern said earlier this week that the virus had been eliminated in her country after 1,134 cases and 20 fatalities.

The league is planning on playing 18 more rounds with games being played behind closed doors for the foreseeable future.

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