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League: Warriors seeking answers from New Zealand Rugby League after Denver test

David Skipwith, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sunday, 1 July 2018, 7:29PM
The Warriors are seeking a 'please explain' from New Zealand Rugby League (Image / Getty Images)
The Warriors are seeking a 'please explain' from New Zealand Rugby League (Image / Getty Images)

The Warriors are seeking a 'please explain' from New Zealand Rugby League after a lack of communication from the Kiwis camp in the wake of last week's Denver test.

The Warriors remain frustrated they received no direct feedback or updates from Kiwis coach Michael Maguire or the team's high performance staff about how their three test players – Issac Luke, Peta Hiku or Ken Maumalo – pulled up after last Sunday's defeat to England at Mile High Stadium.

After all of the talk about extensive planning around player welfare in the lead-up to the controversial mid-season fixture, the club are unhappy they didn't receive at least a courtesy call to inform them of the trio's health status after the match.

Warriors coach Stephen Kearney was less than impressed after he was forced to ask both Luke and Hiku to back-up and play in Friday's 18-15 NRL defeat to Cronulla, while he felt Maumalo needed to rest after making his Kiwis debut.

Kiwis team manager Nadene Conlon was prompt in notifying Warriors football operations manager Dan Floyd about the flight problems that delayed the players return to Auckland until Wednesday morning, but the club feel they were left hanging over the condition of their players.

The situation only added to the club's frustrations after the Kiwis opted to stay the night in Denver after the game, while arrangements were made for England's players to depart the US in the hours following the match.

England playmaker Gareth Widdop and St George Illawarra teammate James Graham were back in Sydney on Monday morning, but Dragons teammate and Kiwis debutant Leeson Ah Mau returned 48 hours later.

Along with Maumalo, both Ah Mau and Kiwis and Roosters front-rower Jared Waerea-Hargreaves were also held back from playing for their club sides after their late return to Australia, while Widdop and Graham were able to help the Dragons edge Parramatta 20-18 on Thursday night.

"I was pretty worried," said Maumalo. "The cancellations and delays were pretty terrible and I just wanted to come home and get back to training."

Maguire explained the Kiwis medical team believed they were doing the right thing by giving the players a chance to sleep and go through their recovery protocols before travelling home. However, the Warriors are upset they weren't given the option to expedite their players return, with the travel delays only compounding matters.

"The high performance guys and Greg Macleod the doctor felt that it was in the best interests of the players to get up and do recovery the following day and have medical assessments," said Maguire.

"They did all their medical screenings and recovery and set a really good protocol for obviously the return home with sleep, hydration and all of those sorts of things but unfortunately due to the circumstances that changed.

"But even though we ended up going to a hotel that night they were still doing recovery. They swam and did a bit of exercise there and things were still happening in the back ground to make sure the players were in the best of care."

Furthermore, Kiwi players were unimpressed by the quality and comfort of United Airlines and the Warriors trio were unhappy with their original travel itinerary booked by Denver test promoters Moore Sports, that saw them scheduled to make stopovers in San Francisco and Sydney, before catching a third flight to Auckland.

The flight changes eventually saw them leave Denver for Los Angeles, where they were relieved to be able to catch a more comfortable business class flight with Air New Zealand direct to Auckland.

The Warriors are expecting to catch up with NZRL chief executive Greg Peters this week and will voice their concerns, while it remains unlikely the club will be willing to support the fixture again next year.

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