Highlanders players, staff all double vaccinated

The Highlanders are fully vaccinated and remain hopeful a full Super Rugby Pacific campaign can be completed.

Chief executive Roger Clark confirmed yesterday all current players and management were double vaccinated for Covid-19.

The shadow of Omicron looms but the Highlanders are doing everything possible to play their part in ensuring the inaugural season of the rejigged Super Rugby competition goes ahead.

Players were receiving rapid antigen testing (RAT) twice a week, signing in and displaying vaccination passports when required, Clark said.

The Highlanders have not yet shut down plans for community engagement events — things such as school visits and junior coaching — as there were no Covid cases in the community in the South.

"But we are obviously monitoring the situation very closely and can rapidly adapt as required," Clark said.

"All the Super Rugby clubs are in communication with the key New Zealand Rugby personnel to ensure our policies are robust and give us the best chance of moving ahead with the season.

"Clearly, with Omicron already at our borders, we need to be ready to adapt our environments to any eventuality as we are naturally all focused on staying healthy so that Super Rugby Pacific can get under way."

Covid has forced Super Rugby into drastic changes in both of the previous two seasons.

In 2020, the Highlanders had played six games in the 15-team competition, including Australian and South African teams, before it was scrapped when the pandemic took flight. A double round of Super Rugby Aotearoa followed.

Last year, the season started with Super Rugby Aotearoa, before the Highlanders won all five of their games in Super Rugby Transtasman and played the Blues in the final.

There is much hope the rebranded Super Rugby Pacific, including two new teams centred on Pacific Islands rugby and with no awkward time zones, will be a winner.

That is assuming it can even be played in full, as it has already had a schedule change.

"At this stage, you have to be confident," Clark said.

"We have seen around the world that sporting competitions have found a way to minimise the disruption of Covid and continue on.

"I am ever hopeful that some solutions can be found to ensure that we can complete the competition and play our transtasman rivals.

"It promises to be an exciting series of games."

 - The Highlanders are set to be the first New Zealand team to play the new Fijian Drua team in the islands.

They will head to Fiji to play the Drua in either Suva or Lautoka on April 30.

The Drua’s first nine games of Super Rugby Pacific are being played in Australia.

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