Super Rugby opener postponed due to COVID outbreak in Moana Pasifika squad

COVID-19 cases in the new Moana Pasifika squad have forced organisers to postpone the opening match of the Super Rugby Pacific season.

Seven Moana Pasifika players were confirmed as positive cases on Friday as the squad continue to isolate in their hotel in Queenstown, where the six NZ-based teams are in a hub.

Their team was due to play the Blues in the opening match on Friday, January 18 but that game is now postponed.

Organisers said all members of the other five squads have tested negative for COVID-19 and will continue preparations for the start of the season, including preseason fixtures in Queenstown this weekend.

“Our thoughts are with the players who have tested positive, and our focus is on ensuring the have the full support of NZR as they deal with their situation,” said NZR general manager of professional rugby Chris Lendrum.

“However, we also remain confident Moana Pasifika can get through this period of isolation and join the DHL Super Rugby Pacific season and will be doing everything we can to support them over the coming weeks.”

Moana Pasifika made the decision to have the full squad take PCR tests on Thursday, after it was identified that a player, who trained with the squad on Monday morning prior to their departure to Queenstown on a charter flight, subsequently became a close contact.

That player did not travel with the team.

A Blues player who was identified as a close contact on Wednesday night returned a negative PCR test result on Thursday but continues to isolate in the team hotel following the advice provided by health authorities.

Moana Pasifika’s situation means the preseason schedule has been changed.

The Highlanders, who were scheduled to play Moana Pasifika, will now join the Blues and Gallagher Chiefs in a game of three halves, while the Hurricanes will play the Crusaders. Both matches will now be played at the Queenstown Recreation Ground.

Pre-season fixtures for Saturday, February 12.

2pm AEDT: Chiefs v Blues v Highlanders

7pm AEDT: Hurricanes v Crusaders

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