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Warriors forced to extend Australia stay

The Warriors have been forced to extend their stay in Australia until June 21, dashing hopes of a return to Mt Smart Stadium by round five of the NRL season.

After playing all of last season out of Australia, the Warriors are now facing another four months away from home as they target a return to New Zealand by mid-season.

The Warriors haven't played at their home stadium since August 30 in 2019, but are now looking at their round-16 clash with St George Illawarra to mark their long-awaited return.

Their return to New Zealand was contingent on a trans-Tasman bubble opening between the countries so they could fly in and out for games without isolating.

However, that now appears to be happening later than originally hoped.

"On that basis, we've had discussions with the NRL and our players and staff about delaying our return to ensure we have some continuity for the first 15 rounds of the competition," Warriors chief executive Cameron George said on Saturday.

"We thank our members, fans and sponsors for their support, understanding and patience through these challenging times while we've been preparing for the 2021 season at our home away from home on the Central Coast.

"Clearly this hasn't been the outcome we wanted, particularly after being away from home for the entire 2020 season, but I hope our determination to front up for our fans, our partners and our country gives everyone cause to be proud of the club and excited to be part of another premiership challenge.

"When it's safe to do so, we look forward to sharing the biggest homecoming party with everyone at Mount Smart Stadium but for now the players and staff are focused on the opening round of the season against Gold Coast on Saturday week."

The Warriors will now play seven of their 12 home games for the season out of Central Coast Stadium.