New Zealand virus outbreak forces players into lockdown

Australian Associated Press
·2-min read
Pictured here, Auckland Blues superstar Beauden Barrett.
Auckland Blues players are in lockdown after new virus were reported in the city. Pic: Getty

A new outbreak of coronavirus around the Auckland region has forced the Blues’ Super Rugby squad into lockdown.

The Blues remain hopeful their sold-out final Super Rugby Aotearoa match on Sunday can still go ahead, despite the worrying new development.

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New Zealand's government said four new cases had emerged in Auckland after 102 days without community transmission and the country's largest city would go into lockdown until Friday.

The Blues are scheduled to host the Canterbury Crusaders at Eden Park on Sunday, but have sent their players home and will distribute training equipment to continue preparations.

"We are busy this morning readying our facility for shutdown as per level three requirements, cleaning gym equipment which will be dispersed around players so they can continue to train and prepare for our final game," the Blues said in a statement.

"NZR is in close and constant dialogue with Government and we will pass on more information when we have it.

"We are working through all the numerous scenarios and will probably be in a better position to comment with more clarity tomorrow (Thursday)."

Situation puts final round games in doubt

The lockdown rules limit the number of people allowed to gather in the same place to 10 in the wider Auckland region and 100 in the rest of the country.

It’s a scenario which could place both of the weekend's games in jeopardy if the restrictions extend past Friday.

Seen here, the Blues doing battle with the Crusaders in Super Rugby.
The Blues are scheduled to play the Crusaders at Eden Park on Sunday. Pic: Getty

The Otago Highlanders are due to host the Wellington Hurricanes in Dunedin on Saturday.

The Blues said on Monday all 43,236 available tickets had been sold for the final game of the domestic championship, which was organised after the wider Super Rugby competition was shut down in March.

The Crusaders wrapped up the title with a game to spare on Sunday.

A North-South match, which is being looked at as an All Blacks trial game, is scheduled for Eden Park for August 29.

Organisers had hoped to base the annual Rugby Championship competition involving Australia, South Africa and Argentina in New Zealand later in the year.