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Brumbies boss calls for 'common sense' over Covid-19 protocols

By Alex McLeod

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Brumbies head coach Dan McKellar has called for “common sense” over Covid-19 protocols that his side are set to face during the upcoming Super Rugby Pacific campaign.

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The Canberra-based franchise will kick their new season off against the Western Force in Perth on February 19, with their preparations continuing despite a new surge of Covid-19 cases that has swept the country.

Australia registered more than 66,000 new cases of the Omicron variant on Tuesday, taking the nation’s collective total of cases past the 1 million mark, half of which were recorded in the past week alone.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week urged the country to forge ahead and learn to live with the virus, a sentiment McKellar agreed with while running over the Covid-19 protocols placed on his side for the season ahead on Tuesday.

“There’s protocols that are in place. Sitting indoors at restaurants or bars is something that we can’t do at the moment. We’re not in a bubble as such. I think it’s unhealthy,” he said.

“We’ve experienced a number of lockdowns and trying to cage up young men and women and expect them to sit in their house and just go to work. We talk about mental health, well I don’t think that’s healthy at all, so we’ve got to let them live their lives.

“We’ve got to approach it with common sense and do the right thing, and if you do present with symptoms when you wake up from one day to the next, then stay at home and let our doctor know and we’ll deal with it from there.”

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McKellar reserved praise for his side’s medical staff, who he said have been “superb” in dealing with the threats posed to his players and colleagues in the midst of the pandemic.

He added that the teams that deal with the challenges presented by Covid-19 throughout the course of the season, which he labelled as the toughest since the outbreak of the virus, will have the best chance of attaining success in Super Rugby Pacific.

“We know that we’re going to face challenges and we’re going to have to adapt,” McKellar said.

“I really believe that teams that handle disruption best, because disruption will come, the teams that handle it best and just get on with what’s important will benefit from that early on.

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“It’s a tough one, isn’t it? I think we’re trying to learn to live with it. How quickly do we get to the next level?

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“At some point in time, you’d envisage that we’ve just got to crack on with life and take responsibility for your own health and your own actions.

“The tricky part is that this virus tends to impact different people in different ways. Some people won’t have any symptoms, other people will be bed-ridden in ICU for a number of days, so it’s difficult and I feel for all involved [in the Covid-19 decision-making process].

“Thankfully I don’t need to make those decisions. I just go off the direction that’s provided to us and we do the right thing in making sure that, as an organisation, we’re keeping our players and our families and our community healthy.”

The inaugural edition of Super Rugby Pacific kicks-off on February 18 when expansions franchise Moana Pasifika host the Blues in a cross-town derby at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.

With travel between New Zealand and Australia closed off, teams will begin the season by playing other sides from their own country before ending the round-robin with cross-border fixtures.

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