Warriors looking at more loan players to replace those who may home

The Warriors have already drawn up a list of potential loan players if three key players head back to New Zealand later this month.

Ken Maumalo, David Fusitu’a, Agnatius Paasi all want to head back to Auckland as their families haven’t been able to join them in Australia and it’s understood Leivaha Pulu also wants to return home.

The players have agreed to a July 19 deadline for the NRL to give them certainty over whether their families can be given exemptions from the Australian government to join them in the Central Coast.

If that doesn’t happen, then they’re off and Warriors interim coach said on Wednesday that they’ve already put together a short list of loan players to bring in as replacements.

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“We’ve drawn up a list, I think it’s prudent that we’re prepared if it does happen,” Payten said.

“We’re going to have to go to the NRL, go to the clubs and get them over the line.

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Warriors interim head coach Todd Payten says the team are committed to seeing out the season, even if some players go home.

“So it would be idiotic to leave it until they go and then we’re caught with our pants down.

“There’s a list being looked at daily and if we haven’t heard anything within a week, we’ll push down that path a bit further.”

Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’Landys and NRL CEO Andrew Abdo had a meeting with Warriors players and staff on Saturday, with V’landys assuring them that he’ll do everything he can to get the families to Australia.

However, with the increased number of coronavirus cases in some parts of Australia, his task hasn’t got any easier.

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The Warriors will have to manage without Roger Tuivasa-Sheck on Saturday.

“He said that everything that’s happening in Victoria isn’t helping our situation,” Payten said.

“He has reapplied and is taking it higher up the food chain, so to speak. He also spoke of a possible bubble opening up between Queensland and New Zealand.

“I think our best chance is to get the exemption and get our families to self isolate together at a facility.

“That was the thing he pushed the most, but he has only got 20 days to go.”

Of more immediate concern for the Warriors is Saturday’s game against the Broncos at Central Coast Stadium, where the team will be without Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who’s serving a one-game ban.

“The plan at the moment is for Peta (Hiku) to go to fullback and Gerard Beale come into the centres,” Payten said.

“Peta is very capable, he’s spent a lot of time at fullback in the past with Manly. We trained that way yesterday in preparation.”

Payten was highly critical of his players after their 50-6 loss to the Storm last weekend and revealed that a number of them have been told they are on notice.

“They responded well,” he said.

“I showed them some video, said this was not good enough and I need you to do this. Moving forward, if you give me that effort again, we’ll go with someone else.

“If it happens again, we won’t be picking them, they know that.”

The loss to the Storm was one of the lowest points of a season that’s already had a fair few of them.

The question will be how the team respond to it. Whether they can get up against a Broncos team that’s in disarray and lost five on the bounce, or continue to go into free fall.

“They were definitely hurting after the game,” Payten said.

“We played a pretty smart, tough and ruthless team in the Storm and some of our efforts weren’t good enough.

“But we spoke at length and have had a couple of reviews and it’s clearer now for them what’s expected.

“It will be shown on Saturday night, but we’ve made some changes in our defensive structures, there will be some teething problems with that moving forward.

“Philosophically we haven’t changed what we want to do defensively, but in terms of where we stand and how we move, there will be some small changes for some and big changes for others.

“They’ve dived into that, we’ve got an extra day of training this week and that’s helped.”