Blues coach’s stark Covid-19 warning for Super Rugby Pacific

'It's coming': Blues coach's stark Covid-19 warning for Super Rugby Pacific

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‘It’s coming’: Blues coach’s stark Covid-19 warning for Super Rugby Pacific

Blues head coach Leon MacDonald has issued a stark warning to his side, and Super Rugby Pacific as a whole, as the ever-present threat of Covid-19 remains high.

The new revamped version of Super Rugby is due to launch in just under a month, but for the third season in a row, the league continues to feel the wrath of the global pandemic.

The league’s two new expansion teams, Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua, have already been hit by the virus, with the Drua set to be based from Australia in their debut campaign, with just one match scheduled to be played in Fiji.

Uncertainty about international travel has also led Moana Pasifika to have their home base at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium until 2028, rather than in Samoa or Tonga.

Similarly, travel restrictions between New Zealand and Australia forced the Super Rugby Pacific draw to be revised late last year, effectively resulting in a continuation of Super Rugby Aotearoa and Super Rugby AU into the first half of the campaign.

The 12 teams will then cross the border to face their foreign counterparts in the final six rounds of the regular season, as they did for Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, although how that unfolds depends on the border situation between New- Zealand and Australia.

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Given the huge increase in Covid cases in Australia due to the outbreak of the Omicron variant in recent weeks, it remains to be seen whether travel restrictions over the Tasman will be relaxed towards the business end of the season.

The highly transferable nature of the Omicron variant also poses risks for teams participating in Super Rugby Pacific, as it has for sides from other professional sports leagues – such as the NRL and A-League – across Australia.

Having successfully completed the past two Covid-affected seasons, MacDonald is well aware of the potential damage the Omicron variant could do to the Blues and Super Rugby Pacific in general, as he explained to the media on Tuesday.

“We are positively negative at the moment, but I don’t know how long that will last in the environment, and we are ready for that,” MacDonald said, admitting his own players will inevitably be brought down by the virus at some point. this year.

“We have many plans, and again, two years later, we are still talking about the same hitches and speed bumps that lie ahead.

“We are [under strict protocols] because once it gets into teams, it tears teams to pieces. We will have a lot of guys at home this year so we have to prepare for that.

“The depth of our squad is being tested. Individuals have to take a lot of care to try and keep themselves healthy.”

MacDonald is not the only Super Rugby Pacific coach to speak out about the difficulty of competing amid the new Covid outbreak.

Brumbies boss Dan McKellar last week called for “common sense” about virus protocols before adding that the team best coping with the disruption caused by Covid has the best chance of success in Super Rugby Pacific.

That team may well be the Blues, who are not only blessed with depth and talent throughout their squad, but also have contingency plans to deal with the looming Covid outbreak within the league.

“I think that’s the reality of the country, isn’t it? It’s coming and it’s going to get a lot from us,” MacDonald said.

“We just need to be as prepared as possible for it, and being healthy helps, and taking all the precautions we can, but we expect it to come into our team at some point, and we need to make sure we get there as best we can.” to handle.”

The Blues open their 2022 Super Rugby Pacific campaign against city rivals Moana Pasifika on February 18 at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium.

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