New Zealand Warriors have confirmed they will be four men down from next week, with a quartet of players to return home to be with their families.
Due to travel restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Warriors have been camped in Australia since the NRL resumed in late May, with players sacrificing being with their loved ones in order to play.
David Fusitu’a, Ken Maumalo (above), Agnatius Paasi and King Vuniyayawa will now return home, however, having originally agreed to stay until yesterday’s game against Cronulla in the hope the NRL would be able to secure travel exemptions for their families to enter Australia.
They have been unable to do that, though, while lack of available flights means the quartet will now stay until after next Saturday’s game with Sydney Roosters, before they fly on July 27.
Warriors CEO Simon George said: “We can’t say enough about the sacrifice they have made being away from their families so long. We fully understand the predicament they have been in and we’re so appreciative of what they have done in committing to the cause for as long as they have.
“When we travelled to Australia we promised the players everything possible in our control would be done to secure travel exemptions for their families to join them there.
“Ultimately the decision lies with government agencies to approve the applications the NRL made on our behalf. There hasn’t been any sign of a favourable result, which we accepted was always a possibility. Given those circumstances David, Ken, Agantius and King are free to go home.”
The quartet take the number of players to return to New Zealand to five, after Leivaha Pulu left the squad last week.