Dave Rennie sympathetic over All Blacks Christmas lockdown concerns, Newsline

WELLINGTON – Australia coach Dave Rennie has expressed some sympathy for the All Blacks over the disputed Rugby Championship schedule and hopes a relaxation of biosecurity rules in New Zealand might mean they are not in isolation over Christmas.

New Zealand Rugby said on Thursday they had not agreed to the schedule for the southern hemisphere championship as their last game on Dec. 12 would mean the All Blacks would still be in isolation over the Christmas break.

Rennie, who arrived in New Zealand with the Wallabies on Friday to begin two weeks of isolation before next month’s Bledisloe Cup tests against the All Blacks, said the solution probably lay more with governments than rugby officials.

“I know there is talk of a bubble opening up between New South Wales and New Zealand,” Rennie told reporters on a conference call from his Christchurch hotel on Sunday.

“If that comes in before Christmas happens then it will be a non-issue and they will be able to go straight home to their families and that’s what we want.

“It has been a tough year for everyone. The All Blacks will be away for a long time. But so will everyone else.”

New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), which is managing the quarantine and isolation process, was not immediately available for comment.

The Wallabies have been isolated from each other since they arrived in New Zealand, although they had an area where they could go outside provided they wore masks and socially distanced.

They have just one more day of total isolation and pending tests for Covid-19 on Monday should be able to begin training together on Tuesday.

Rennie said they would hold just light training on Tuesday to test the fitness of players like Rob Simmons, James Slipper and Jordan Petaia, but added that at this stage all 44 players should be available to play the first Bledisloe Cup test on Oct. 11.