NRL backtrack on big Warriors decision

Publish Date
Sunday, 24 May 2020, 10:20AM


The Warriors have been handed a lifeline by the NRL to loan in reinforcements in a bid to shore up their injury-hit side.

The NRL resumes next week, with the Warriors taking on the St George Illawarra Dragons on Saturday, but they will do so without several key forwards.

The losses of Leeson Ah Mau and Jazz Tevaga to long-term injuries added to the earlier absence of Bunty Afoa and Jackson Frei to leave the Warriors short on front-rowers, and having to request the NRL provide special dispensation to allow them to sign players on loan.

That request was first denied, but Warriors CEO Cameron George revealed that the league bosses had reversed their decision.

"We were declined about 10 days ago and I went back in to bat for the club. I'm very grateful for the NRL for giving us approval," he told NZME's Lachlan Waugh.

"I think they got a better understanding of the situation we're in. Rather than just looking at the numbers of the squad, actually understanding what each player brings to the table, where they're at with their career and what position they play."

NRL's head of football Graham Annesley said the Warriors were a unique case deserving of an exemption.

"Everyone appreciates the extreme lengths the Warriors have gone to, to try and bring this competition back to life," Annesley said.

George noted that the exemption contains specific guidelines – their loan signings have to be restricted to where their injury problems lie, which is in the middle of the park – and said the club had yet to speak to any potential loanees.

"We haven't talked to any other club about players or anything like that because we needed to understand whether we could get approval. Now that we have, we'll certainly be very proactive in the next 24-48 hours to see who is available and what those terms and conditions look like.

"We can provide a great opportunity to springboard some players into the NRL, I'm sure they'll be very keen to take the opportunity to show their current club, and also the world, what they've got."

The Warriors have already signed Jack Murchie from the Canberra Raiders on a one-year deal, and have locked in two forwards for next year, with Ben Murdoch-Masila signed for 2021, and Cronulla Sharks prop Toby Rudolf reportedly having signed a three-year deal.

However, the Sharks are unlikely to want to release Rudolf early after he made an impressive start to his debut season, while Murdoch-Masila is keen to join, but may not be allowed to by his Warrington Wolves side, with the UK Super League hopeful of an August return.

"I'm still contracted to Warrington at the moment, but if they are willing to put me out on loan, it could be good for the club and myself," Murdoch-Masila told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"I'm not opposed to it if the club grants a loan deal."

Wests Tigers prop Matt Eisenhuth and Dragons forward Eddie Blacker have also been linked to the Warriors as loan options, as well as former long-term Warrior Russell Packer.

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission