Super Rugby Trans-Tasman: Highlanders could make Sydney mercy dash to save Melbourne Rebels clash

The Highlanders could be forced into a mercy dash to Sydney to ensure the integrity of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman.

A 72-hour pause on quarantine-free travel to and from Melbourne has dashed the Rebels' initial plans to fly to Queenstown for Sunday's game, which could yet be skittled altogether or force the Highlanders across the Tasman to save the game.   

"It'll either be Saturday morning to Queenstown or Saturday morning to somewhere else," Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark says.

The team trained as usual on Wednesday, still holding onto hope that Sunday's afternoon clash with the Rebels can proceed as planned.

"There's a little bit of water to go under the bridge, but at this stage, we're confident the game will go ahead," says Clark. 

The Rebels will have to try and get to Queenstown from Sydney, where they've reportedly relocated to. 

But their move may not be the silver bullet both sides hope, with an NZ Government warning against trying to flout the rules.

"I've made it clear that they should not be travelling to New Zealand, until further decisions have been taken," says COVID-19 Minister Chris Hipkins.

"Ultimately, they're [Rebels] covered by the pause, if they were in Melbourne, when the pause came into effect."

The other option would see the Highlanders travel to Sydney on Saturday and have the game played at a neutral venue.

"I think just as long as we focus on the preparation around the group, then it doesn't really matter too much," says Highlanders playmaker Mitch Hunt.

But if a solution can't be found, the game will be deemed a draw and the points shared.

Given the tighter format of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, that would all but end the Highlanders chances of making the final, so naturally, that doesn't sit well with them.

"There are only five games in this competition before we decide the finalists and we want to make sure there is real integrity in the outcome."