Warriors find home in ‘fortress’ Tamworth
Warriors players will spend up to four weeks training inside a customised Tamworth 'fortress' before then moving to a new base on the Central Coast to restart the NRL season.
As revealed by The Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, Warriors CEO Cameron George has decided to base his travelling franchise in the western NSW town where he once starred as a Group 4 halfback.
For the past week, locals have been working overtime to create 'Camp Warrior' on the sprawling West Tamworth Leagues Club site - which apart from a licenced club, also boasts the Mercure hotel and $2 million Scully Park.
So secure is the venue, which will be closed to the public, the NSW Government has already signed off on the New Zealanders training as a team throughout its 14 days in quarantine.
Every member of the 48-person squad will be given their own room at the three-storey Mercure.
A temporary gym is also being constructed in an events centre attached to the hotel while all meals will be provided by a team of chefs who work both onsite and at the adjacent leagues club.
Meeting rooms have also been decked out with video games and table tennis, while outside areas host both a hotel pool and newly-installed basketball hoops.
The team will also have private access to a nearby council pool, also closed to the public, while training sessions will take place on Scully Park, which had been set to host the Round 9 clash between Wests Tigers and Canberra.
Tipped to arrive in Australia this Sunday, the Warriors will fly straight to Tamworth for at least all 14 days of their quarantine.
There is an option, however, for coach Stephen Kearney's group to spend all four weeks of a second pre-season in Australia's Country Music Capital.
From there, the team will then be moved to a Central Coast venue.
Asked about the location on Tuesday night, a Warriors spokesperson stressed that "nothing has been confirmed as yet".
While the Aucklanders had initially planned to base out of Lennox Head on the NSW North Coast, George eventually decided on the country town with an oversized guitar and where he once wore No.7 for the West Tamworth Lions.
In 1999, the now Warriors boss even found himself in a grand final showdown with Moree, whose rival playmaker that afternoon just happened to be Canterbury-Bankstown cult favourite Ewan McGrady.
Sadly for George however, McGrady and several of his brothers ran riot in the second half to clinch the game.
Regardless, it was during a more recent Lions reunion where the Warriors chief executive was won over by the new $15 million precinct that, complete with a hotel and first class playing surface, is attracting increasing interest as an NRL host venue.
In recent days, the club boss has worked closely with both ARLC chairman Peter V'landys and NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro to ensure his team will be in Australia by the weekend.
Barilaro said on Tuesday that while Border Security had not yet signed off of the Warriors travel exemption, he expected the final confirmation as early as Wednesday.
Originally published as Warriors find home in 'fortress' Tamworth