Super Rugby: Nervous wait for Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, after Sydney COVID-19 community cases

NZ Rugby and its Australian counterpart will watch nervously, after quarantine-free travel with New South Wales was paused on Thursday.

Flights to the Aussie state have been paused for 48 hours, after two community cases of COVID-19 - a husband and wife - were detected in Sydney.

But with Super Rugby Trans-Tasman scheduled to begin next week, the competition could now hinge on how quickly Australian authorities can get to the root of the two new cases.

Should the trans-Tasman bubble burst, the Hurricanes would be the NZ side most affected - they are scheduled to face the Waratahs in Sydney in the opening round of the new competition next week.

The Highlanders would face the Reds in Dunedin and the Crusaders host the Brumbies in Christchurch, while the Blues and Chiefs would travel to face the Rebels and Force in Melbourne and Perth respectively.

Last month, NZR head of professional rugby Chris Lendrum made it clear that contingencies were in place, in case the trans-Tasman bubble burst. 

"Obviously, we're hoping that the six-week tournament can go off without a hitch, but I think we've learnt enough over the last 12 months that it might not," Lendrum said. "We have to plan, potentially, for some disruption.

"The beauty of the competition start date - which is still over a month away - is that we get to see the bubble open, we get to learn a lot over the first few weeks and that will inform our contingency planning.

"In effect, it's business as usual for us. We wait for circumstances to arise, we know what contingencies we've got in our back pocket and we move when we need to."

The paused bubble will also give NZ Breakers and Wellington Phoenix reason to worry, as they prepare to bring fixtures home this month. 

NZ Warriors have been reluctant to take that step, fearing that any disruption of the travel bubble would leave visiting teams stranded on this side of the Tasman, disrupting the NRL competition.

This 'pause' raises that possibility as a genuine concern for those other teams.

Sydney Roosters players and staff were tested, after the Sydney COVID cases visited a cafe near the club raining facility. All tests returned negative, but the NRL has resumed protocols limiting public interaction.