Chiefs prepare to shift home game against Rebels to Sydney as travel pause with Victoria continues

The Chiefs have made yet another adjustment to their build-up to this weekend’s game against the Melbourne Rebels, conceding they may have to shift their home game to Sydney on Sunday.

Chiefs huddle after their match against the Hurricanes. Source: Photosport

The Chiefs announced this afternoon they are flying from Townsville to Sydney instead of Hamilton this week to continue their preparations for round four as questions remain around travel restrictions between New Zealand and Victoria.

It comes after the Waikato franchise announced yesterday this week’s game had been moved from Saturday to Sunday to allow more time for the Rebels to travel to New Zealand.

However, with Victoria’s Covid-19 outbreak yet to be resolved, chances of a travel restriction are likely to extend beyond the originally scheduled end on Friday evening meaning the Rebels are, once again, stuck in their make-shift base in Sydney.

“The Chiefs are reliant on the travel pause being lifted by Government officials to allow them to play the Melbourne Rebels in Hamilton in front of their loyal members, fans, and stakeholders,” The Chiefs said in a statement.

“The Chiefs preference is to host the Melbourne Rebels at FMG Stadium Waikato, however if the travel pause remains in place the game will take place in Sydney at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday 6 June, with a kick-off of 3.30pm (AUST).”

The shift would follow the same sacrifice the Highlanders made last week to ensure the competition remained valid as they abandoned their scheduled game in Queenstown to travel to Sydney and play the Rebels there.

Unlike the Highlanders though – who are back in Dunedin this week to host the Waratahs – the Chiefs will go from a one-week stint in Australia to three weeks if Sunday’s game is changed as their fifth round clash with the Waratahs is in Wollongong.

Adding to the Chiefs’ woes is the confirmation star Damian McKenzie’s season is over after he copped a three-week ban in Saturday’s 40-34 loss to the Reds for a no-arms tackle on Tate McDermott which initially saw him red-carded.