Hurricanes vs Blues clash moves to Wellington

The Hurricanes and Blues Super Rugby Pacific pre-season match has been shifted to the capital as community cases of the Omicron Covid-19 variant continue to climb.

The Blues announced the relocation from Auckland to Wellington late on Wednesday, saying the move occurred to minimise risk.

The Hurricanes confirmed the fixture will be hosted behind closed doors at Rugby League Park on Sunday, with a 1pm kick-off. The game is not being broadcast.

Hurricanes chief executive Avan Lee said discussions about relocating the pre-season game started earlier in the week.

“The risk of the team travelling up to Auckland was too severe, so in conversation with New Zealand Rugby and the Blues we decided to play in Wellington. It just makes sense for the Blues ... to pick us up on the way to Queenstown,” he said.

Following Sunday’s game the sides will depart on a chartered flight to Queenstown to join the other New Zealand teams in a Super Rugby bubble, Lee said.

New Zealand Rugby announced the Super Rugby bubble on Wednesday, which will involve moving approximately 300 players, coaches and support staff to the southern lakeside town. It will cost the governing body more than $1 million.

NZR also announced on Thursday the night matches for the first three weeks would be played under the roof in Dunedin, starting with Moana Pasifika against the Blues on February 18.

Lee said the bubble didn't come as a surprise, and while it’s “not ideal” it still means the season can go ahead.

“It does make sense given the situation. We’re looking at it as a temporary solution. Whilst it’s necessary we’d much prefer to be staying in our own houses and playing in Wellington in front of our fans. That’s what we are looking forward to, but we’ve got to go down to Queenstown and do a job too,” he said.

“It’s a very unique time with playing games and where you play them, and bubbles, so you need to go with the flow a little bit.”