The embattled Warriors thanked their Tamworth hosts with a haka before rolling out of town digesting more grim injury news, 10 days out from their NRL opener.
Club officials confirmed the knee damage suffered by utility back Adam Keighran on Monday is serious and will require surgery before an “extended” period on the sideline.
That news completed a sour end to the Warriors’ 17-day stay in their Tamworth quarantine base, with three players having succumbed to significant injuries in the space of four days.
Prop Leeson Ah Mau will have season-ending surgery on his pectoral muscle while loose forward Jazz Tevaga (knee) faces a spell on the sideline.
Keighran was the starting centre in place of an unavailable Peta Hiku in their last-start loss to Canberra two months ago, before the season was suspended.
His confirmed absence means nine of the Warriors’ 30-strong squad listed in early March can’t play in the round three match against St George Illawarra on Saturday May 30.
The 23-year-old was among those watching on as the Warriors performed the Ka Mate haka in the forecourt of the hotel they have called home, ending a unique challenge for a professional sporting team.
The Maori ritual, to thank staff and the Tamworth community, was followed by a speech from coach Stephen Kearney before boarding the bus to their base for the remainder of the season on the Central Coast.
The Warriors will be housed for the remainder of the season at a gated seaside precinct in Terrigal, just outside Gosford, with Central Coast Stadium their ‘home” venue.
Chief executive Cameron George said the Tamworth community’s support for a team they couldn’t see or touch showed how much regional centres want to get behind rugby league.
Warriors staff and squad members will return to Tamworth this year to host school and community events, he said.
“We might have Mad Monday there after we win the grand final.”