Rugby: Auckland lockdown jeopardises Super Rugby kick-off

The latest COVID-enforced lockdown in Auckland is threatening the start of the new Super Rugby season.

The Blues can't train at alert level 3 and with further announcements expected later this week, the four other franchises are also on high alert.

New Zealand Rugby says it's monitoring the situation closely and will work closely with the clubs to make responsible contingency plans for every possibility.

As Auckland entered its third lockdown on Sunday night, the Blues pre-season training also came to an immediate halt, as players and coaches alike were forced to head home.

"It's gut wrenching for them," Crusaders chief executive Colin Manbrisge tells Newshub.

But it's a different story for every other franchise, who are all allowed to train with some extra health measures in place. 

Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark has admitted postponements could be a reality, should the Blues remain locked out.

Their pre-season game against the Crusaders at Eden Park on Saturday has already been cancelled.

"If you get to the stage where you're not able to train - which is where the Blues are at level 3 -  then obviously you've got to consider postponing some games," Clark says.

That sentiment is shared by his fellow franchise bosses, who want to ensure it's a level playing field for all teams come competition kick-off on February 26.

"You'd certainly hope that all teams get the same preparation into the first game, including the Blues, who are our first opposition," Lee adds, whose Hurricanes are scheduled to take on the Blues in Wellington on February 27.

"You don't want someone to be disadvantaged."

Auckland's lockdown means the Blues won't be able to train as a team until Thursday, at the earliest, and any possible extension of level 3 could impact the start of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

"Yes, there might be the requirement for us to be flexible around the start of the season," says Mansbridge. "Maybe a slightly later start or a bit of a tweak."

"We don't know what's going to happen but you've got to start thinking about it and planning for every eventuality," says Lee.

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