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Highlanders CEO outlines team's 14-day coronavirus isolation plan

Highlanders CEO Roger Clark has provided an insight into what the 14-day isolation period will be like for the New Zealand-bound Highlanders players.

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The players, returning from Argentina, won’t be able to participate in any team trainings as they follow the Government’s new requirements. Source: 1 NEWS

The Highlanders are coming home from Argentina, where their game against the Jaguares on Sunday morning was cancelled within hours of kick off due to the looming threat of coronavirus.

As per the new requirements issued by the Government, the group of 36 will all be required to enter into self-isolation upon their arrival to New Zealand. 

All of the members returning will isolate in Dunedin, and while most are expected to spend the next 14 days with their families, some will not.

Clark said that alternative accommodation has been arranged for those players who are unable to isolate with their family, with hotels being avoided in order to minimise contact with the public.

“We’ve just got Airbnbs or houses that they can go into. It’s a containment situation obviously, so it’s trying to keep them away from the public.”

Although a large contingent of the Highlanders squad will be away from team duties for the coming weeks, 20 members of the side will be able to participate in team activities and training as they returned early or didn’t travel at all, with All Blacks Aaron Smith and Liam Coltman among them.

The Highlanders tweeted a statement today advising Dunedin locals not to panic if they see Smith, Coltman or any other Highlanders players out and about. 

Clark assured that the returning players are showing no signs of ill-health and will be permitted to train on their own if they can do so.

"They can do a little bit of their own stuff. They can't obviously train as a team.

"They can still train in their house, which is obviously weight bearing stuff, and they can go for a run or a cycle as long as its not in a public place. But they basically have got to keep away from as many people as they can."

Clark also didn’t shy away from questions over the financial future of the franchise, stating that the potential loss of games and ticket sales will pose a threat.

"That’s something that’s obviously a real concern for us because our money is generated through broadcast, sponsorship and ticketing.

"Once we know a little bit more from SANZAAR what the competition, or if there is a competition going forward past the next two weeks then we'll consider what this means to the business as well.” 

With all Super Rugby fixtures suspended for the next two weeks, Clark confirmed that some of the 20 players who remained in New Zealand will return to club rugby in a week’s time as they wait for news on the fate of the 2020 season.

“The group of players that are still back in New Zealand will play club rugby not this weekend but the weekend following, and by that stage we would hope to know what is going on with the competition and we will be able to inform everybody a little bit more widely.”