Moana Pasifika’s Round 2 DHL Super Rugby Pacific match against the Gallagher Chiefs has been postponed due to player welfare concerns New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has announced.

The first cohort of Moana Pasifika players and staff emerged from their Queenstown hotel Monday after nearly 10 days of isolation following positive COVID-19 cases in the group.

The DHL Super Rugby Pacific Medical Advisory Group met today to consider the return to play plan for Moana Pasifika. The recommendation of this Group was that the match should be postponed as there was not sufficient time for the squad, specifically those who are recovering from COVID-19, to adequately prepare for their first DHL Super Rugby Pacific match this Sunday.

The postponement further delays Moana Pasifika’s historic entry to the competition after their Round 1 match against the Blues was also postponed after a number of players tested positive for COVID-19.

NZR Head of Tournaments and Competitions Cameron Good said postponement was the only responsible decision.

“Everyone wants to see Moana Pasifika out on the field, and we explored every possibility to make that happen this weekend including pushing the Chiefs match out two days to Sunday.

“However, we were not willing to compromise player safety and wellbeing, so in the end this was an easy decision. We remain committed to re-scheduling both of the postponed matches involving Moana Pasifika.”

Good also addressed reports that the six New Zealand-based DHL Super Rugby Pacific squads were returning home from Queenstown earlier than expected.

“We always said that the longest the teams would stay in Queenstown was through until the completion of round three, but we would continue to review the situation. With the Government having moved to Phase 2 of the Omicron response it is now likely that some teams will return home after their round two matches this weekend, but we are still working with the Clubs to confirm this.”