THE NRL's New Zealand Warriors have waved goodbye to Tamworth for now, but not forever.
It's no easy feat to feed a team of 50 elite players and support staff every day in isolation.
But, with 40 of the Mercure Hotel's best staff, a kitchen stocked with lean steak, chicken, fish and salads to meet an athlete's dietary requirements plus a 24-hour snack and smoothie room, Tamworth showed the Warriors the best in country hospitality.
In traditional Maori style, the players performed a roaring Haka to Wests Entertainment Group chief executive Rod Laing, staff, Tamworth Regional Council mayor Col Murray, MP Kevin Anderson and Oxley Police District Inspector Jeff Budd as a special thank you on their way out.
Each was presented with a signed jersey, which Tamworth returned with a Wests Lions' jersey for the club to take back to chief executive Cameron George, and a picture book of the city's history.
Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney stood outside the facility that hosted the elite players and support staff while in strict isolation on Wednesday morning before they boarded a bus headed for the Central Coast.
"We'd like to take this opportunity to formally thank everyone who's helped us here in Tamworth," he said.
"It's been a wonderful stay and given the current climate in this country and all over the world, it took a fair bit of effort to get us here.
"We were booked to go to northern NSW and that fell over pretty late, to coordinate the situation that we found ourselves in here quickly was a wonderful effort by a number of people."
The trans-Tasman move to Tamworth in the middle of a global pandemic was watched closely by the rest of the world.
The city's airport was turned into an international landing spot specifically for the Warriors, a state-of-the-art gym was set up for the players and Scully Park became an elite training ground.
It was fantastic to play host to an international team and to show off Tamworth's facilities, Cr Murray said.
"It's just been such a wonderful outcome for our city and the overwhelming message I get from the community that I represent is that it's been a great achievement, it's been a great thing for the marketing of our city and it's again that overarching message of the camaraderie of Australia and New Zealand," he said.
"Which as we know goes back well over 100 years.
"It's nice that Tamworth has been able to contribute some small thing to getting the footy back on the agenda and the NRL."
The team headed to the Central Coast, which will be their home ground for the rest of the NRL season that will kick off on May 28.