- Publish Date
- Tuesday, 22 February 2022, 8:28AM
By Liam Napier
For the second successive week Moana Pasifika's debut match has been postponed with the Super Rugby Pacific new entrants unable to field a team due to a recent Covid outbreak.
Ahead of Sunday's match against the Chiefs in Queesntown, Moana Pasifika coach Aaron Mauger revealed yesterday 15 of his squad remained in isolation. This is a result of more players testing positive for Covid late last week.
The match against the Chiefs – already rescheduled from Friday to Sunday – has been postponed with those players unable to sufficiently recover.
The Chiefs are understood to have offered replacement players but, given the excessive number required to supplement those with Covid, Moana Pasifika felt it would not be a true representation of their team. Mauger made this point yesterday.
"Replacement players from other teams have been talked about. You could probably handle four players coming in with three or four days preparation. Anything more than that and it becomes a little bit shambolic, and you're asking too much of players coming in and our guys to prepare a third of a new team," Mauger said.
"Anything more and it's not really a Moana Pasifika team. When it starts to get to those levels, we'd probably take it off the table and do what's right for our team."
Last week Moana Pasifika were originally scheduled to open Super Rugby Pacific against the Blues but that match was also postponed, leaving two mid-week matches to now be shoehorned into a compressed calendar.
With their match against Moana postponed it is understood the Chiefs will return home from the Queenstown bubble later this week.
The Crusaders, Blues and Hurricanes will also leave the Queenstown bubble after their matches this weekend.
Moana Pasifika are expected to remain in Queenstown and are now planning towards making their debut against the Crusaders next week.
NZR head of tournaments and competitions Cameron Good said postponing Moana Pasifika and the Chiefs 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," Good said.
"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.
"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"