The Chiefs have extended their stay in Australia after shifting this Sunday’s home game against the Melbourne Rebels from Hamilton to Sydney due to the Covid-19 outbreak in Victoria.
Sunday’s game was moved due to the ongoing uncertainty around the Rebels’ ability to travel to New Zealand and will instead take place at Leichardt Oval in Sydney – the same venue that hosted the Highlanders’ shifted home game last week.
NZR general manager of professional rugby and high-performance Chris Lendrum said NZR, Rugby Australia and SANZAAR made the decision to shift the match following the extension of the Melbourne Covid-19 lockdown period by the Victorian state government.
"It's disappointing that we couldn't get the match across the line in Hamilton, but ultimately we are guided by the advice of government and health authorities," Lendrum said.
"We feel for the Chiefs and their fans and sponsors, but given the circumstances we're grateful we can still play the match as we reach the final weeks of Sky Super Rugby Trans-Tasman."
The Chiefs are already in Sydney, having adjusted their travel plans earlier in the week after their shock loss to the Reds in Townsville on Saturday.
Chiefs CEO Michael Collins said the game is just another challenge for his men.
"We were hopeful through extending the kick-off out 24 hours it would allow us to have the best opportunity to play at home if the travel pause lifted. However, we have learned the unpredictable nature of the Covid-19 pandemic brings uncertainty, and we need to be adaptable.
"We feel for our fans and everyone who has been involved in preparing for the match this Sunday and we are absolutely devastated we are unable to deliver the match as scheduled. Fortunately, we are able to still play the Rebels in Sydney and know our Chiefs team will be wanting to deliver a performance our Chiefs whānau will be proud of."
Sunday's game will kick off at 5pm NZT.