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Despite match being canned, NZ-bound Highlanders will undergo 14-day self-isolation

The Highlanders will be the first New Zealand professional athletes to undergo self-isolation despite their Super Rugby match in Buenos Aires being aborted because of the coronavirus threat.

Highlanders huddle after their loss to the Waratahs. Source: Photosport

SANZAAR gave just five hours notice when announcing the Jaguares clash with the Highlanders match scheduled this morning had been cancelled.

The round-seven match would have been played at an empty Jose Amalfitani Stadium after advice from the Argentina government as it bids to stymie the spread of Covid-19.

Another SANZAAR review deemed the match shouldn't go ahead at all and that the match be declared a draw, with both teams to earn two competition points.

However, the decision came too late for the Dunedin-based Highlanders, who will arrive home on Tuesday, well after a midnight Sunday cut-off when the New Zealand government's border restrictions begin.

Any person arriving after that time undergo a 14-day isolation period, a mandatory scenario that awaits a tour squad of players and staff that numbers well in excess of 30 people.

SANZAAR on Saturday declared Super Rugby would be suspended indefinitely beyond round seven, stating the heavy international travel involved made it unviable while measures are put in place to prevent the virus spreading.

NZ Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said the safe return of its players was a priority before it could begin to assess how rugby and its stakeholders will cope with the loss of matches.

"The decision to suspend competitions is being made for many events around the world and this is an important step the sporting world can take to ensure that teams and fans are not affected by the pandemic," he said.

It is the second-straight year the Highlanders have had a game cancelled at a time of crisis.

Last year's fixture against the Crusaders was annulled as it fell in the immediate wake of the Christchurch mosque shootings.