NRL prepares Warriors for relocated season

Contingencies are in place for the Warriors to start the 2021 NRL season at a NSW base.
Contingencies are in place for the Warriors to start the 2021 NRL season at a NSW base.

New Zealand-based NRL club the Warriors are set to find out next month whether they will need to relocate to the NSW Central Coast once again for the start of next year's season.

The NRL announced a full 25-round draw for the 2021 season with the Warriors scheduled to play 11 games at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.

However, there are contingencies in place should the border between New Zealand and Australia remain closed including playing blocks of games in Australia.

In announcing the draw, NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said he is confident the border would be open in time for the season but the timing could also affect the pre-season.

And should the trans-Tasman border not re-open in the coming weeks, a decision could be made to relocate the side to Australia for the NRL preseason.

"We've been in constant dialogue with the CEO and the chairman of the Warriors around planning for their pre-season, because it's not just about the first round, it's about the preseason," Adbo said.

"We're in quite advanced discussions where if there's at some point in December, making a call as to whether the Warriors relocate to preseason in Australia.

"I would expect that call to be made in the next couple of weeks."

The Warriors played the entire 2020 NRL season out of Australia and have been tentatively rewarded with two home games to start 2021.

However, there will be challenges for new coach Nathan Brown, who is one of several handed a difficult start at a new club.

The Warriors are set to play premiers Melbourne twice and will have three five-day turnarounds with the potential for a lot of travel.

Trent Barrett, Anthony Griffin and Kevin Walters will also have a tough initiation at their new clubs with Canterbury, St George Illawarra and Brisbane all copping difficult draws.

The Bulldogs will face six 2020 NRL finalists in the first eight rounds, while the Broncos will face top-four sides Penrith, Parramatta, Storm and Sydney Roosters twice.

The Dragons have a brutal finish to the season, playing South Sydney twice, Canberra, Penrith and the Sydney Roosters in the last five weeks in a big test for Griffin.

Similar to the Warriors, Storm played just two NRL games at home this year before relocating to the Sunshine Coast.

As a reward they will open the season at home against South Sydney on March 11 in the first NRL match played in Victoria since June 5.

The NRL has also announced the return of Magic Round at Suncorp Stadium in round 10, a reduction in five-day turnarounds and a more even spread of free-to-air matches.

Australian Associated Press