Highlanders clear up coronavirus confusion

Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty
The Highlanders have asked members of the public not to be alarmed should they run into some of their players - despite the team having to self-isolate upon their return from Argentina.

The Highlanders were scheduled to play the Jaguares in Buenos Aires on Sunday morning (NZT), but the match was cancelled only hours before kickoff as the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc with Super Rugby and other major sporting events worldwide.

Super Rugby's governing body Sanzaar announced at the weekend that the competition would be suspended "for the foreseeable future" shortly after the New Zealand government declared that every person arriving in the country would need to self-isolate for 14 days, in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

The policy, which came into effect from midnight on Sunday, means the group of about 30 Highlanders players and support staff who travelled to South America would have to self-isolate upon their arrival on Tuesday.

The Highlanders on Monday moved to reassure Dunedinites that not all of their players would be forced into quarantine, including All Blacks Aaron Smith and Liam Coltman who weren't part of the squad of 23 for the Jaguares clash.

"As you'll probably be aware, the 2020 Super Rugby competition has been suspended for two weeks and the next two games (Lions/Crusaders) will not play as scheduled," the Highlanders posted on Twitter.

"We are awaiting confirmation from Sanzaar regarding what the competition will look like after the two week suspension period and will update you as soon as we have any new information.

"The travelling team are on their way back from Argentina and will arrive in Dunedin on Tuesday where they will begin their 14-day self-isolation.

"Our priority at this point in time is ensuring the team arrives back safely and the players, team management and their partners and families have the information and support necessary to help them through this time.

"Please note that not all of the squad were travelling, and we have another 20 players who are not required to self-isolate so please don't be alarmed if you see them in public. This includes our All Blacks Aaron Smith and Liam Coltman who returned early."

No date has been set for Super Rugby to return, in what is the final season featuring a 15-team format before the Sunwolves are removed from the competition.

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