Fourth Moana Pasifika game at risk as Covid hits Otago Highlanders


Super Rugby continues to be marred by Covid-19 outbreaks with 1News able to reveal cases have been confirmed in the Highlanders squad.

Highlanders high performance manager Greg O’Brien confirmed on Monday the southern franchise has cases in the team but would not disclose the exact figure.

It comes after the Highlanders travelled to Auckland last week where they lost to the Blues, who were forced to make last minute changes to their matchday 23 due to positive tests.

Included among those withdrawn from Friday’s match were All Blacks star Beauden Barrett, tighthead prop Nepo Laulala and backup halfback Sam Nock.

The Highlanders are scheduled to host Moana Pasifika this Friday in Dunedin. O’Brien told 1News as of Monday they are “confident” they will be able to field a side for the match.

Moana Pasifika have only played one match this season after missing the opening two rounds with their own Covid outbreak in the Queenstown competition bubble before their match last week against the Hurricanes was also postponed after the Wellington franchise lost players to the virus.

The Hurricanes said Monday they are poised to return this week though but are also discussing with organisers pushing their match back a day to Sunday to allow them to prepare better.

“From our perspective having an extra day with the game on Sunday would be massively beneficial for us so hopefully we can get that across the line,” Hurricanes assistant Chris Gibbes said.

“The challenge is going to be from a training perspective that we get enough time and the Sunday game gives us an extra day, but if it’s Saturday we’ll deal with it.”

Gibbes said his players are back training in small groups, however he concedes they’re still likely to have some players unavailable.

“That’s the focus for the next few days, we have guys at different stages coming back, but we’re confident we’ll have a team for this weekend,” he said.