Pregnant wife’s accident sends NRL star home
Warriors prop Leivaha Pulu is making his way back to New Zealand after his pregnant wife was involved in a car crash, according to reports.
Pulu has become the first player to leave the Warriors' team base on the NSW Central Coast as he heads home to be with his wife in Auckland.
She has been given the all-clear by doctors, TVNZ reported.
The Warriors have been given clearance by the NRL to sign another loan player as cover after Pulu's departure, having already signed Jack Hetherington on loan from the Panthers earlier this week.
Pulu's decision to leave comes after the team yesterday revealed they had given the NRL a 23-day ultimatum to sort out exemptions for families to join the players in Australia or face a player boycott which could jeopardise the rest of the season.
Warriors stars David Fusitu'a, Ken Maumalo and Agnatius Paasi have expressed their desire to return to New Zealand to be with their families, but have agreed to stay until their July 19 match against the Sharks.
Interim coach Todd Payten said the club is already lining up potential replacements for players who intend to leave if the NRL family exemptions aren't granted.
"There's obviously a plan around those three guys, we've put together a list over the last three days and we'll continue to look at that list," Payten said.
"We've drawn up a list, that's as far as its gone. I think it's prudent that we're prepared if that does happen because we're going to have to go to the NRL, go to the clubs and get them over the line.
"It'd be idiotic just to leave it until they go and then be caught with our pants down.
"There is a list, it is being looked at daily, and if we haven't heard anything within a week, I guess we'll push down that path a little bit further."
Payten said the players and club were frustrated with the lack of progress with the Warriors' family situation.
"From our end, the frustration was around there being plenty of talk and no real resolution," said Payten.
"At the end of the phone call we laid it all out there and they know where we stand.
"It's just the three at the moment but if they go, obviously there's some other challenges that will face the group.
"So fingers crossed we get the right answer from the government and the NRL, we can move on and have 100 per cent focus on our games from week-to-week."
Paasi has four young children in Auckland, while Maumalo is also a young father and Fusitu'a's partner is expecting their first child.
ARLC Chairman Peter V'landys said he is hopeful that a trans-Tasman bubble will be established soon to help ease the burden of the Warriors' two-month stay away from home.
This story first appeared on the NZ Herald and was reproduced with permission
Originally published as Pregnant wife's accident sends NRL star home