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Hurricanes, Highlanders still planning on playing…

WELLINGTON, Aug 13 – The Wellington Hurricanes and Otago Highlanders are continuing to prepare for their final Super Rugby Aotearoa match at the weekend amid concerns it might not go ahead as New Zealand grapples with a new outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

The government imposed a lockdown on Auckland and restrictions on the rest of the country after new COVID-19 infections emerged on Tuesday.

The Hurricanes can still travel to Dunedin for the match with the Highlanders but fans will not be allowed into Otago Regional Stadium.

“At the moment were good to go,” Hurricanes coach Jason Holland told reporters on Thursday.

“There’s still second up for grabs and … we want to keep winning and sit over summer not worrying about our last game.”

Hurricanes captain Dane Coles said there was some anxiety about travelling in the midst of a new outbreak but had faith that New Zealand Rugby and the government would make the correct decision in terms of player and community safety.

“There is a little anxiety but … it’s not like they’re flipping a coin,” Coles said.

“All we can do is put trust in New Zealand Rugby and the government to make the decision for us.”

Coles added that the team had agreed to support any player who opted out of the final game for family or safety concerns.

“It’s completely up to the individual,” he said.

“If they want to stay behind, then that’s up to them and we will support that decision.”

The Auckland Blues are scheduled to host the Canterbury Crusaders, who wrapped up the title last weekend, at Eden Park in the final game of the domestic competition on Sunday.

That match, however, will only go ahead if the lockdown in Auckland is lifted and restrictions relaxed on Friday.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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