The New Zealand government will create “bespoke” quarantine rules to ensure the Wallabies can prepare properly for the Bledisloe Cup Tests across the Tasman in October.
New Zealand is to host two trans-Tasman Tests after losing the hosting rights for the Rugby Championship to Australia due to restrictive quarantine protocols.
But Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said the country’s current strict quarantine conditions were unacceptable for his team to prepare properly before the opening Test on October 10.
On Tuesday, NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she had spoken with her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison and told him her country’s strict biosecurity regulations could be eased to ensure a level playing field.
“Yes, they will be in quarantine, but they will be able to train together. What we’ve got here is a bespoke arrangement,” she said.
After consulting directer-general of health Ashley Bloomfield, the NZ government has offered to allow the Wallabies to train in small groups from the third day and as a full group from the sixth day of their two-week quarantine period.
Under the previous rules, they would not have been able to train as a squad until October 5.
Ms Ardern told NZ radio she had spoken to Morrison on Monday night.
“I just wanted to make sure that he was aware … I was made aware last night that there were a few little rumblings around the arrangements that we had in place,” she said.
“Quarantine shouldn’t be an issue. We just want to make sure that, you know, we go there and they go here and it is a fair arrangement.”
Ms Ardern is now confident the Wallabies will agree to the new conditions and the Tests will go ahead. Dates and locations are still to be confirmed.
“There is no reason for them not to,” she said.
“Given the risk profile for Australians, it is very different to some of the teams we were talking about as part of the Sanzaar tournament.”
NZ Sports Minister Grant Robertson said the Wallabies would be based in Christchurch for their pre-Bledisloe Cup quarantine.
“It will be in a dedicated isolation facility, and they will be able to bus to and from their training grounds,” he said.