Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021: Blues taking positive approach to COVID-19 forced relocation

Coming off the back of their professional victory over the Hurricanes on Saturday, the Blues are being forced to relocate after Auckland was thrown into a seven-day lockdown. 

While many would expect them to feel sorry for themselves and looking for sympathy, they'll be doing the exact opposite. 

"I think the Blues have shown we can bounce pretty hard and bounce back pretty tough," Blues CEO Andrew Hore says.

"Look you can sit there and cry as much as you want but the fact of the matter is, just get on with it, no one cares, so move on."

Following Saturday's victory over the Hurricanes, the Blues players completed health checks, and will be stuck in their hotel until everything comes back negative. 

"They’ve all filled out a Google questionnaire on places of interest, whether they’d been there or their families have and they’ll all have health checks," he says

"The players got tested last week and we made the decision to do it again and until that point [return negative test] they'll stay within the compounds of the hotel."

"There's been a protocol that had been worked up between New Zealand Rugby and the franchises for this kind of scenario, and look it was always going to happen to the Blues really when you have 18 MIQ units in Auckland."

Once cleared, the tentative plan is to shift the team to a facility in south Waikato where they can take the right precautions and create a bubble for themselves whilst keeping up all their training. 

The Blues have a well-timed bye in the next round before taking on the Highlanders at home, but with the current situation very fluid and up in the air, the management team is working around the clock to finalise plans. 

"What we're working through today and tomorrow is analysing everything, you've also got in the background the news coming on updating on whether these cases are spreading," Hore says.

"It's a bit of a matrix on our board at the moment of the steps we need to go through."

The Blues were prepared for this scenario given Auckland is always at the highest risk of heading back into lockdown and Hore said plans are to stay out of Auckland for as long as needed. 

"We were probably far more heightened to it, to the point that the boys would leave a packed bag in the team van because you come down here with your little backpack it isn't enough if we're going to be kicked out of Auckland for a couple of weeks," he says.

"So we had the bag-pack scenario and we've been on high alert for this sort of situation." 

A small factor that comes with shifting games out of Auckland and playing behind closed doors is the economic impact it takes on the club. 

"It'll sting and at the end of the day the Blues traditionally have good ticket sales as part of their commercial makeup," he says.

"Let's hope it doesn't, but we know even losing that pre-season game had an impact and the way the team was performing we were hoping for a good turn-out."

Join us on Friday from 7pm for live updates of the Chiefs up against the Highlanders.