Rugby Championship: Brisbane Covid-19 outbreak forces All Blacks indoors

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A coronavirus outbreak in Brisbane has thrown the All Blacks a curveball by forcing the team to largely isolate in their hotel for the remainder of the Rugby Championship.

Brisbane recorded four new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, sparking restrictions and the possibility the Sunshine State could be placed in a snap lockdown should the outbreak spread further.

Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane is scheduled to host the NRL grand final between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and Penrith Panthers on Sunday night but Townsville is now on standby for the finale in the wake of the latest outbreak.

The All Blacks, preparing for Saturday’s rematch against the Springboks in the final game of the Rugby Championship, are based on the Gold Coast this week.

Tournament organisers have, however, reacted swiftly to Brisbane’s outbreak by restricting all four Rugby Championship teams’ movements.

The All Blacks, Wallabies, Springboks and Pumas are permitted to continue training in secure bubbles, but cannot venture out of their respective hotels and mix with the public.

The changes essentially necessitate a return to the soft quarantine restrictions the All Blacks experienced when they first arrived in Perth for their match against the Wallabies on September 5.

Since moving to Queensland, the team have enjoyed largely normal freedoms other than not dining indoors.

All Blacks assistant coach Scott McLeod detailed the developments following training on Tuesday.

“We just got off the bus back from training and Shandy [team manager Darren Shand] informed us it’s level 2 in terms of the tournament. We’re not allowed out of the hotel except for essentials or medical visits,” McLeod said.