Rugby Championship: NZ Players Association boss Rob Nichol backs decision to suspend All Blacks travel to Perth

With South Africa sitting atop the Rugby Championship, no-one yet knows the future of the southern hemisphere competition.

One place they're not going is New South Wales.

Newshub understands both the Springboks and Argentina were meant to leave for Sydney on Sunday, but the entire schedule was turned on its head, when state government officials refused to allow teams to train while in quarantine.

"It meant there were no guarantees you could get South Africa and Argentina into the country," explains NZ Players Association boss Rob Nichol, who has been across all developments in this saga over the last week. 

When the NSW option closed, attention immediately turned to Queensland, but when its government couldn't confirm isolation rules by Friday, that set off a chain reaction for all teams, with NZ Rugby deciding to suspend the All Blacks' travel across the Tasman. 

"That meant Argentina and South Africa cancelled their charter flight, and the All Blacks said 'well, we can't come over until we've got confirmation from the Rugby Championship'."

The risk of getting stuck in Perth if the Rugby Championship didn't go ahead proved too great, but it wasn't the only reason they couldn't fly on Saturday.

All travelling players and staff were scheduled to get their second COVID jab on Thursday, but the 48-hour pause on vaccinations across the country week provided an added complication. 

"We had to make sure the entire squad were all vaccinated and then medical advice says you can't fly 48 hours post jab," says Nichol.

The earliest they could fly was Sunday and that would've needed Western Australia Government exemption to face the Wallabies after just six days of soft quarantine, instead of the required seven.

But without question the biggest factor in deciding not to put players on a plane to Perth was the uncertainty around the competition.

"Argentina and SA said the same thing, effectively 'well, we're not prepared to come on a plane and come to Australia, unless we know that we're able to MIQ and train and play Rugby Championship'," says Nichol.

"The irony of it is all the countries are in the same position and they all made the same decisions, and actually, they don't have a lot of choice, but the key now is working together to see what we can do. 

"There are options and we're very fortunate in that respect. I know our players are highly motivated to play this game, and we've got every intention of playing it and, likewise, the Rugby Championship."

The situation is tough for everyone, but it seems we're getting closer to an outcome we all can celebrate.

Newshub understands SANZAAR expects good news from the Queensland State Government, and South Africa and Argentina will travel there in the new few days.

If that happens, the All Blacks are likely to board a plane for Perth this week, with the intention of playing Australia there on September 3.