Behind the scenes: Photos of Warriors ahead of Titans clash
With one NRL trial match cancelled, the New Zealand Warriors are picking up the pace with their pre-season training before they arrive in Lismore next week.
The match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Gold Coast Titans will be the first time recently-appointed Kiwi coach Nathan Brown will see his players front up under his aegis.
On Thursday the Maclean-born Brown hinted that the full squad, including star recruits Euan Aitken, Addin Fonua-Blake, Kane Evans and Ben Murdoch-Masila, but minus forward Eliesa Katoa who has an injured cheekbone, will run out on Oakes Ovals to play Gold Coast Titans on February 27.
He said it was a shame the second trial game Melbourne Storm has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.
"Ideally we were going to have a trial this weekend because it would have been great for kids like Viliama Vailea and Rocco Berry, and (other) kids like that to play an 80-minute game this week and get 15 or 20 minutes next week," Brown said.
"They are young kids, who like (new and rookie players at) all clubs didn't get to play any footy last year.
"In their cases they are boys who have come from a union background."
Meanwhile, Brown confirmed training ahead of the game against the Titans was proceeding well.
He said the players had formed a united and cohesive team during their time based on the Central Coast.
It seems likely, Brown said, that while the players and their families were content being based in Australia during the pandemic uncertainty, they would continue to stay there as New Zealand has introduced new lockdown measures at midnight last Sunday (February 14) after a COVID-19 breakout in Auckland.
"What would be disappointing or a disaster would be if we actually went home and then had to come back again, that would be bad," Brown said.
"We are also here ready to go for the longer term if that's what it takes because a lot of things got eliminated last year that were big issues for us as a club and I can see a lot of partners and children that are happy with the lifestyle and location."
Brown also confirmed the Warriors are still hoping to be return home before their round five match at Mt Smart Stadium against Manly on April 9.