ZB

Sport coming home? What border announcement means for NZ teams

Author
Christopher Reive, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 3 Feb 2022, 2:23pm
(Photo / Photosport)
(Photo / Photosport)

Sport coming home? What border announcement means for NZ teams

Author
Christopher Reive, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 3 Feb 2022, 2:23pm

New Zealand sports teams based in Australia can now entertain the idea of a return to home soil following the Government's announcement of their five-step plan to reopen the country's borders.

The five-step plan, beginning at 11.59pm Sunday February 27, will see the gradual opening of the borders, first allowing fully vaccinated Kiwis and other currently eligible travellers from Australia into the country.

Over the following months, more and more restrictions will be lifted, with sports teams being allowed to return home at step three – scheduled to begin in mid-April.

Speaking to media today, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Sport Grant Robertson said the changes meant sports teams such as the Breakers, Phoenix and Warriors could now return to New Zealand, with step three including those classed as able to come through for sports and events, with a classification system put together around the significance of the events. Those people will be able to self-isolate rather than go through MIQ.

However, at step four, with visa waiver countries such as Australia, there would be "significantly more" ability for sports and cultural events to move backwards and forwards.

It will be welcome news to the teams who have been forced to set up camp across the ditch in order to remain a part of their respective competitions.

The Breakers and Phoenix are currently in their second seasons of life in Australia, while the Warriors are heading into their third.

All teams had committed to spending their campaigns abroad, despite the Breakers and Warriors having plans to play home games in New Zealand during their 2022 seasons.

The Warriors have already made alternative plans for their scheduled Mt Smart matches this year, should it prove impossible to stage the games in New Zealand.

The Warriors' first homecoming match is against the NRL premiership champions Penrith on June 18.

The other games here feature the Wests Tigers (July 3), Melbourne Storm (July 29), Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (August 12) and Gold Coast Titans (September 3).

For the Breakers, it remains unlikely they will play at home during their current campaign. They had initially planned to play their first home game of the season on February 5, however with their regular season ending on April 23, they would still have to self isolate for seven days on arrival into New Zealand – which does not work with the quick turnaround of games in the NBL.