Wellington — All Blacks coach Ian Foster said one player in the squad “barged in his door” and made it clear he had no intention of being in quarantine at Christmas, highlighting the tension the team is under amid a standoff over Rugby Championship fixtures.
New Zealand Rugby (NZR) is at loggerheads with Rugby Australia, Rugby SA and the southern hemisphere’s governing body Sanzaar over the December 12 finish for the Rugby Championship that will be held in Australia.
NZR said it had not agreed to the fixtures, with a December 12 finish meaning the All Blacks would still be in a 14-day quarantine over the Christmas break upon their return to New Zealand.
“I’ve had one player that has barged in my door and said ‘I’m not playing at Christmas’,” Foster told radio station Newstalk ZB.
Foster did not identify the player, but NZR has said it would support anyone who chose to withdraw from the squad because they did not want to spend up to 10 weeks away from their family.
“It’s a tough one for the players,” Foster added of the dispute that is clouding the southern hemisphere championship between New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and world champions SA.
“They got given some dates, the dates changed, we’ve basically said through our players’ association and the union to sort it out and get real clarity on the dates.”
All Blacks captain Sam Cane said last week the players were not happy about the possibility of being in quarantine over Christmas but would leave it to administrators to sort out.
Foster will assemble his squad in Wellington on Monday as they build up to Sunday’s first Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia, who are in quarantine in Christchurch until Saturday.
The match will be the first international rugby game played since March, when the coronavirus pandemic forced administrators to put competitions on hold.
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