All Blacks players who are not keen on spending eight weeks away from family around this year’s Rugby Championship would be supported by New Zealand Rugby (NZR) if they opt out of the tournament, the organisation’s chief executive has said.

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Southern hemisphere rugby’s governing body SANZAAR said on Friday the four-nation Rugby Championship (TRC) would be held in Australia from Nov. 7-Dec. 12, after initially saying in July that New Zealand was the preferred host.

Teams travelling to Australia, however, would need to arrive at least two weeks before their first game to allow for coronavirus isolation protocols to be completed, while the All Blacks would then spend another 14 days in isolation when they return home.

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“We are hugely supportive of our players we know they have gone through an incredibly tough time this year,” NZR’s Chief Executive Mark Robinson said in comments published by New Zealand media on Saturday.

“This challenge of what they are about to undertake is going to be significant and we will back them and their families in whatever way we need to ensure they are looked after.

“If that means they are unable to assemble or travel we’ll hear that out and support that.”

The New Zealand Warriors, who compete in Australia’s National Rugby League competition, have been based in New South Wales since early May.

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The Warriors allowed players to return home for personal reasons, with four leaving midway through the season because their families were unable to join them in Australia.

All Blacks hooker Codie Taylor said on Friday after he played for provincial side Canterbury that it would be tough to be away from home for so long.

“It’ll be tough … but people have to do it all over the world,” he told Sky Sports.

“It’ll be interesting, but hey we still get to play test footy.”

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(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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