The New Zealand Government will relax its quarantine rules to ensure the Wallabies can prepare properly for the Bledisloe Cup Tests across the Tasman next month.
- Jacinda Ardern said “quarantine shouldn’t be an issue” for the Wallabies
- Australia will play the All Blacks in two Bledisloe Cup matches in New Zealand
- The Wallabies have not won the Bledisloe Cup since 2002
New Zealand is set to host two trans-Tasman Tests, after losing the hosting rights for the Rugby Championship to Australia due to restrictive quarantine protocols.
But Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said the current strict quarantine conditions were unacceptable for his team to prepare properly before the opening Test in Wellington on Sunday, October 11.
The second game will be at Eden Park the following Sunday.
Rennie named 16 uncapped players in his 44-man Rugby Championship squad on Sunday, eight of whom only made their Super Rugby debut this year.
With a further 13 players in the squad having fewer than 10 caps to their name and a new coach, preparation time will be key if the Wallabies are to regain the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002.
NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she had spoken with her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison and told him her country’s strict biosecurity regulations could be eased to ensure a level playing field.
After consulting director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield, the NZ Government offered to allow the Wallabies to train in small groups from the third day and as a full group from the sixth day of their two-week quarantine period.
Current rules meant they could not train as a squad until October 5.
Ms Ardern told Newstalk ZB she had spoken to Mr Morrison on Monday night.
“I just wanted to make sure that he was aware … I was made aware last night that there were a few little rumblings around the arrangements that we had in place,” Ms Ardern said.
“Quarantine shouldn’t be an issue. We just want to make sure that, you know, we go there and they go here and it is a fair arrangement.”
Ms Ardern is now confident the Wallabies will agree to the new conditions and the Tests will go ahead, with the dates and locations still to be confirmed.
“I believe so,” Ms Ardern said.
“There is no reason for them not to. Given the risk profile for Australians, it is very different to some of the teams we were talking about as part of the SANZAAR tournament [The Rugby Championship].”
NZ Sports Minister Grant Robertson said the Wallabies were set to be based in Christchurch for their pre-Bledisloe Cup quarantine.
“Most likely location will be in Christchurch,” Mr Robertson told TVNZ.
“It will be in a dedicated isolation facility, and they will be able to bus to and from their training grounds.”