The New Zealand Warriors are on their way to Australia to prepare for the resumption of the NRL season, but two players have not got on the plane – one on compassionate grounds, the other due to illness.
Warriors centre David Fusitu’a and hooker Nathaniel Roache remained behind in Auckland when the playing squad and coaching staff left on a charter flight this afternoon.
The club said Fusitu’a had been granted compassionate leave to delay his departure, while Roache was ordered to stay home after contacting medical staff this morning to say he was unwell.
“Nate called the club first thing this morning saying he wasn’t feeling well,” Warriors chief executive Cameron George said in a statement.
“He was instructed to have a test immediately and was told not to report at the airport as he would not be travelling with the team.
“We’re totally satisfied Nate has had no contact with any other player or staff member at the club for several weeks and we’re very comfortable we have abided by all policies and requirements.”
Roache only played six games in 2019, and was not part of the Warriors’ side in the first two rounds of this year before coronavirus forced the season to be shut down.
Fusitu’a has played 98 times for the Warriors since 2014, scoring 60 tries. He played in both the team’s losses to start the 2020 season.
The Warriors have been given permission to travel to Australia and isolate and train in Tamworth amid the coronavirus pandemic, so the club can prepare for when season resumes on 28 May.
Speaking to the media this afternoon, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Brendan Murphy, said he doubted Roache would test positive for Covid-19, given New Zealand’s low case count.
“I’d be very surprised if it [Roache’s test] is positive, given what’s happening in New Zealand at the moment,” Dr Murphy said.